While I volunteered in Timau, Kenya, (pop. 100,000) the level of need was close to overwhelming. By witnessing the Kenyans daily struggle to survive, as well as their having so few opportunities to access their dreams, I knew I could and must do more to help. I felt a sense of duty, not out of guilt, but out of love.
This challenged me to search inside and find how to use my talents and gifts to best reach out to them. After much thought and prayer, I decided that the most beneficial action would be to build a public library for the community.
I met with the librarian in Nanyuki, a town twelve miles away whose library I frequented every month to get books for my students. I told him my idea and asked how to get started. He helped set up a library committee, we all got together and had three meetings before I left to return home to the US. The role of the committee is to get the community involved and educated about the services a library provides, how to effectively use the information available.
My role is to raise funds for the building materials. As a volunteer with the AWE Foundation, I will work side by side the community members to construct the library. By having the people who will benefit from the library provide their effort and time, it will build ownership, empowerment and pride. Once the library is constructed the townspeople will provide the shelving and furniture. Book Aid (collaborating with KNLS - Kenya National Library Services) will provide up to 20,000 books, KNLS will provide the librarian and staff with salaries, as well as cover the recurrent monthly costs.
A 0.9 acre plot has been donated next to the main road with access to power and phone service. The proposal for the 11 x 29 meter library including pit latrines is $47,000. In the future I would like to have the pit latrines be a transition into composting toilets. Composting toilets have many benefits. They are similar to the pit latrines that the community currently uses, but are more sanitary and better smelling. They do not waste water, which is a concern in the dry season, and depending upon the type of composting toilet , they may produce usable soil. For more on this subject, an excellent book to read is, The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins
Andrew Carnegie said, “I believe that a library outranks any other one thing that a community can do to help its people. It is the never failing spring in the desert.” It is this that myself, as a volunteer with the AWE Foundation, and the residents of Timau are striving to achieve.
As of 9/23/05 the amount raised is: $11,107.26.
As of 1/26/06 the amount raised is: $14,312.26.
As of 5/6/06 the amount raised is $17,323.40
As of 7/18/06 the amount raised is $20,482.40
As of 9/7/06 the amount raised is $23,958.40
As of 10/25/06 the amount raised is $28,611.40
As of 1/4/2007 the amount raised is $32,744.33
As of 1/30/2007 the amount raised is $38,518.83
As of 4/18/2007 the amount raised is $47,000
Total needed = $47,000
I am continuing to walk and talk to raise funds for improvements and future projects.