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Book Collection For African Schools Underway

on September 18, 2017 - 1:43pm
Retired Los Alamos teacher Sharon Allen with Kenyan students. Allen helped with the delivery  of book donations from Los Alamos schools to school libraries in Kenya last year. Courtesy photo
Students unload books from a boat to the one school on Takaweri Island in Kenya. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos

Last year it is possible you heard via the Los Alamos Daily Post about book collections around town to make libraries for African schools. This year, you’re going to hear about it again but on a much bigger scale! My name is Sharon Allen, I am a local retired LAPS educator, and am now a volunteer staff member with Project Humanity, a humanitarian organization facilitating the delivery and set-up of these libraries and training librarians.

Presently I am coordinating book drives at all seven Los Alamos public schools to make 1,000 book libraries for seven schools in Kenya. Each  school is paired with a school on Rusinga Island or Mfangano Island, small islands located in Lake Victoria, Kenya. This is an extremely impoverished area of Kenya, near the equator, where the incidence of AIDS is among the highest in all of Africa. While education is provided for most, inability to pay school fees, lack of uniforms or shoes, children needed at home to help support families, or orphans rearing siblings are all reasons children do not attend school.

The number of girls in school is far less the number of boys. In addition to numerous presentations at all of the schools I am scheduled to speak at Alegria Retirement Community (Bernalillo) in September, Betty Ehart Senior Center in October and for the Kiwanis Club in November to share my adventures, my excitement about the difference a book can make in the life of a child, and how our community can help make these libraries a reality.

Should you be interested in participating in this community project, children’s books (good condition used or new, pre-schoo through eighth grade reading level) are being collected at all Los Alamos schools and these drives will continue for about the next eight weeks. (Please refrain from donating religious, American history or holiday books.) The expectation is that we will be able to ship at least 11 libraries (11,000 books) from Los Alamos by Dec. 5. Four libraries are already packed and ready to go! Any books dropped off at schools need to be labeled African Library Project to assure they will reach the correct organization. In addition, each school will be holding various fundraisers to collect the $500 it costs to ship a library.

Last summer I was fortunate to be able to travel to Kenya and witness the arrival and aid in the delivery of the very first shipment to 30 school libraries to Kenya. The thrill of seeing books I had used for years in my own classroom, now in the hands of Kenyan students, most of whom had never seen, let alone held, a book before was a life-changing experience for me! We even delivered a library by boat to Takaweri Island to the only school on that island. I am actively recruiting those interested in sharing a similar experience delivering books next summer, I am busy with speaking engagements all over Los Alamos and even in Buffalo, N.Y., where my parents reside.

For more information, visit the following websites: or or contact me directly at a