Help Create a Much-Needed School Library
Organized by: Sarah Toigo
I'm an American currently teaching English at a high school in rural Malaysia. My host school is a bit atypical in that about half of the students who make up the student body are Orang Asli, members of Malaysia's indigenous groups. These students typically come from very remote. mountanious areas that are hard to access by vehicle and can be as far as three hours from the school. As a result, they stay at the school in dormitories in our on-campus hostel (along with a small percentage of Malay and Indian students who, for a variety of family, logistical, and financial reasons also reside at the hostel).
Although our hostel is quite new and does provide adequate facilities for the students, there are very limited forms of entertainment available for the students after school hours or on weekends (for example there are two TV's that are available for use on weekends but that are shared by 200+ students). In addition, the literacy rate and level of English proficiency among students living at the hostel is unfortunately low, in part due to lack of funds for and access to reading materials. Observing these two challenges, I wrote and submitted a proposal to the school administration that outlined a plan to convert an existing storage/meeting room at the hostel into a small library. The objective of this project would be to provide students with a source of entertainment during their ample downtime while simultaneously improving literacy and English proficiency levels.
Fortunately, the proposal for the library was approved and my student helpers and I have since been able to clean and paint the room as well as purchase a small number of books. Unfortunately, we seem to have hit a roadblock and the project has been stalled for the last month and a half. The sole issue we're facing right now is accessing funding to purchase necessary materials for the library. Although a small amount of money has been set aside, the myriad reporting and paperwork requirements for making purchases with schools funds has resulted in delays and has severely restricted the quality of items we can purchase (i.e., we must only shop at stores that accept special purchase orders, and these stores often have limited selection and/or high prices). Our remaining budget has proven very difficult to access and with only four more weeks left at my host school in Malaysia, I'm concerned I will leave the students with a well-painted but unfurnished room full of empty bookshelves.
To get access to the money we need, and the freedom to make quick purchases, I've started this small fundraiser. Our target goal is relatively low (375 USD) as the items we still need to purchase (i.e., cushions for a reading corner; dictionaries; window curtains) are essential but relatively low cost. As a result, I'm just targeting small, $10 individual donations (though the amount is at your discretion, of course). To give you an idea of Malaysian pricing, a donation of $10 (the equivalent of 30 Malaysian Ringgit) will buy ~8 used books or 2 floor cushions.
This is a small project that already has good momentum but just needs a little, tiny push to get it across the finish line. The students at my school are so deserving of a nice, comfortable place to escape into the world of books and I am so excited that with a little help we will be able to provide that for them (and they're excited too... I already have a waiting list for soccer magazines and have quite a few students eyeing the spines of some already-purchased Goosebumps books).
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for any and all support you can provide! Please feel free to pass this page along to anyone else you think might be interested in contributing.