Sunday, 18 February 2007

Hello Mambo from Kenya!


Greetings from a hot Kenya!

Just taking time to tell you about KidsLibs. Currently KidsLibs consists of me, Anne - a professional British children's librarian! I have been in Kenya for nearly 8 years, and have been creating community based libraries/ information centres since 2001... unpaid!!!

I create libraries with CBO's (Community Based Organisations) in the slum areas of Nairobi, and in rural areas, where there is little to no access to information. KidsLibs has helped t three centres open in slum areas of Nairobi, the oldest has been open for 5 years in November 2007! Each centre has a membership of over 3500!

KidsLibs does not only create them, but advises on buildings (rented or purpose built), finds stock (books, magazines, CD Roms etc) trains all staff in library skills, and keeps the Centres on the right path through monthly staff meetings (where staff from ALL centres come together to exchange ideas) and regular training sessions.

Community-based Information Centres are centres run by members of the community in which they are located, for members of those individual communities.
Currently all our centres are to be found in some of the poorest areas of Nairobi, Kenya. They are places where all people - regardless of age, wealth, ethnic origin, cultural background or ability can come to meet, and to have access to information, and materials to encourage growth of imagination.

We encourage informal education, rather than formal school learning. The children in these areas use the centres as safe place where they can come to meet their friends, study for school - when there is no space at home-, read for pleasure, or just to feel safe. To other community members the centres are a way to access information, use a computer, spread ideas, complement academic studies, or simply to relax with a good book!

Kidslibs Community Based Information Centres are free and open to all - readers and non readers alike. We hope to make many more centres to cater for the needs of all of our communities. The slum areas of Nairobi need many more · Mathare valley has 16 zones, only three of which have community libraries so far!

Kidslibs also hope to create information centres in the rural areas of Kenya where there is also a great need for access to information: in many places a newspaper is a rare sight. In some rural areas the centres can be seen as methods to impliment conflict resolution, as they can unite previously divided communities through a shared activity beneficial- and open - to all community members.


I plan to create another 4 centres, including our first rural centre in Laikipia area of Kenya. We have funding for a new centre in Kawangware slum (in Nairobi), and also funding for another two within Mathare valley through the CBO (MYSA: Mathare Youth Sports Association) in Githurai and Maile Saba - I have books currently in the country for Githurai and Kawangware. Books for Maile Saba and Laikipia are in Canada currently (6 tonnes!!) waiting to us to work out some way of getting them here:- A branch of Rotary club here may well be helping.(fingers crossed!)


KidsLibs currently runs with no money at all. As this scheme has grown it is now becoming impossible to do all the things we can and should do! I am now desperate for donors to both help the CBO's fund refurbishing buildings, etc but more importantly to fund The KidsLibs project itself.

Costs for this will include money to pay me to do the job I need to do independently (including paying for a work permit!), will pay for a vehicle to transport myself and stock to all centres, whether here in Nairobi or in rural areas, will enable trainers to be paid, will pay for staff to come to our monthly meetings, will pay for laminating, printer paper etc etc. It can also assist in paying for the transportation of books from other countries to Kenya - this is NOT cheap!- where I cannot find a donor to assist. I have costings available!! (of course!)

Also am looking for a BIG donor to build a purpose built
library in Laikipia area...I have architects plans all ready
and waiting! This is the piece of land we have waiting
for its building..

Look at the website or contact me! Please! ( I would really love to hear for you, any ideas, suggestions ...donations!

If everyone helps in a small way, then big things can be done!



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