Organized by: Caitlin Patten
Can you remember your favorite storybooks from childhood? Being read to by a parent, teacher, or librarian? Disappearing into worlds of imagination and magic? Do you remember a book helping you through the difficulties of adolescence and showing you a whole wide world out there? Can you remember a book you read in college that challenged the way you thought and conceived of the world, like it was pulling back a curtain to new possibilities and realities? Have you ever read a book in a cozy chair, by a fire, out in the woods, or in a house by the coast and just completely lost yourself, not knowing if you had been reading for minutes or hours?
Can you imagine never even having a book? Never getting the opportunity to have all of these experiences? I am teaching at a school in Rwanda where that is the case for my students. My school is at the top of a mountain in Northern Rwanda in an agricultural community. The ages of the students at my school range from 4 years old to 25. I teach students who are generally 12 to 16, and when I ask my students what they want from me the answer is always the same: books. I lent out the few books I do have with me and within two weeks The Golden Compass had passed through the hands of at least 100 students, all eager to read what they could and then ask me about it. I desperately want to give my students more, because they deserve more, and because it has been proven that reading and literacy greatly influence the ability of an individual to have a good future and the economic development of a country as a whole.
This is why I have started Project Ibitabo, to give these children the opportunities they deserve. Reading should be a right, not a privilege. Project Ibitabo aims to collect relevant donated books as well as raise the money to ship those books. So there are two ways you can get involved, either by donating books (https://projectibitabo.wordpress.com/) or donating money to ship those books through our crowdrise site. You can even host a book drive and then Project Ibitabo will facilitate the shipping.
A link to a message from the Minister of Education about the Rwanda Reads program and the importance of reading in Rwanda today: