Stafford for Africa: Books Donated to Impoverished Countries
Thanks to the Friends of the Stafford Branch of the Ocean County Library, youngsters in impoverished areas in Africa will be receiving desperately needed reading materials. On May 30, the volunteer group loaded 30 boxes of books in a van headed to the Subayo Foundation, a New York City-based group dedicated to improving the lives of African women and children. The donations included textbooks, children’s books, history and geography books and instructional manuals.
“These books will be sent to rural parts of Africa where, in most parts, there may be only 10 to 15 books and they’re all in very poor condition,” said Nora De Rosa, Friends president. “These books will be welcomed with open arms.”
DeRosa said books came from individual donations or volumes that the library had taken out of circulation. She said the drive began earlier in the year, after the Friends heard about a group donating books to the organization from Monmouth County. She estimated about 800 books will be going to Africa.
“Some of the books are duplicate copies, and the library periodically reviews its inventory because they have to make room for newer books” she said. “These are the books that we sell at our monthly book sales. There are some that we haven’t been able to sell and we really don’t have a lot of room to store them in, so we needed to do something with them. I’m glad that they’re going to a place where they will get a lot of use. It doesn’t do much good to have them sitting around here.”
Mbumwae Suba Smith, founder of Subayo, said the books would probably go to areas in Ghana and Zambia. She said the group collects and ships approximately 25,000 books a year.
She said Subayo’s goal is to complement the work of community organizations, government, ministries and development that aim to improve standards of living “in the community as a whole.”
“Its aim is to develop practical initiatives that have direct impact on mitigating poverty,” Smith said. “By targeting programs to specific women and children, populations which have been traditionally left out of other economic development programs, the foundation has found that these women reinvest more tangibly in their communities, resulting in raising the standard of living of the demographic groups, namely children.”
Smith, who was born in Zambia in 1953, said events of her childhood gave her a strong conviction that she should maintain her ties to Africa – particularly to help women benefit from a system of support and education. Smith said when she lost her father at a young age, she and her older sister worked together to ensure that their five younger siblings “would prosper through education, making sure that the younger children would have an opportunity to study at a university.”
“Education is the most important investment you can make in a child,” she said. “In these countries, you have buildings that once were libraries, but now they don’t have any books inside and the people can’t learn. That’s why we need a lot of help in rebuilding these communities.”