Over the past few years I have delivered to Zambia three 40 foot long steel shipping containers full of books. Two of those shipping containers have themselves been turned into use as community libraries.
From a standing start of a few years ago, when there were no books available at all, in any school near Chipulukusu, and no bookshops and no libraries for hundreds of miles, literacy has now taken root in Chipulukusu. School exam grades have dramatically improved. Our container libraries are now very much in demand. We have also shared out the books as far away as Mongu, 812 km to the West, and Lusaka, 320 km to the South.
We want to share out books and teaching resources with more schools. However, many schools in Chipulukusu do not have a secure roof, or windows or doors. They have no books and no access to books and, even if they were given books, nowhere safe to store them. A shipping container library is all very well, and serves a purpose, but it can be stiflingly hot and has limited space. Building a public library, to which all people and all schools will have free access, is the next logical next step.
We have drawn plans to build a proper concrete block library. An architect and structural engineer here in Ireland have kindly drafted the plans, in collaboration with suggestions and ideas from our friends in Zambia. The plans have been adapted and approved by a Zambian architect. We have reached agreement with the Ministry for General Education in Zambia that they will provide us with a site, and we will build the library. On the ground, we have Emmanuel Phiri as construction supervisor and a team of volunteers from Chipulukusu to support the project.
Our initial estimates were that it would cost about €70,000.00, to build this library, but we quickly realised that our plans were too modest as demand for access to books dramatically increased, and we had to double the seating capacity of the library. Rampant inflation in Zambia and wildly fluctuating exchange rates make it difficult to pin down a final cost, but we are currently working on a budget of €130,000.00 to build a 140 seat library with a computer lab and another €23,000.00 to equip it. We have raised the money to build the library, and we are still seeking donations to enable us to properly furnish and equip it. Please donate if you can. This is a big task, but it is very worthwhile.