Prosper High School senior Maurice Landers partnered with the African Library Project to assist in the creation of the Ramba Primary Library in Kenya.
“When I was listening to NPR in my car, they were talking about the literacy problem in Third World countries, so I looked up how I could change it and I found African Library Project,” Landers said.
The African Library Project mobilizes volunteers from the United States to collect and ship books to various African communities. Once the books reach Africa, volunteers help in building and operating the libraries. Landers collected more than 1,100 books and raised more than $500 to cover the cost of shipping the books to Kenya. Landers said a motivating factor for him to get involved was the impact he knows books can make on someone’s life.
“When you read, you get knowledge,” Landers said. “If you’re in Africa and you’re in a Third World country, there’s a huge difference between someone who can read and someone who can’t read. Someone who can read can … help the community out. Someone who can read can be the spokesperson of a community, they can make a difference.”
Landers received an email from the organization in September confirming his volunteerism. He had three months to collect at least 1,000 books and the necessary funds to be able to ship the books to Africa. Landers received book donations from the McKinney and Frisco Half Price Books locations and friends and family members. Several businesses, friends and family donated money for the shipping costs. The books were first sent to New Orleans and then shipped to Kenya.
More than one in three adults cannot read in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the African Library Project website, meaning more than 182 million adults are unable to read or write. Of the 11 countries with the lowest recorded adult literacy rates, 10 are in Africa, according to the site. Landers said that literacy and access to books can help people better their lives.
“Even if you don’t start out in the best place, something like (being able to read) can help you get to where you want to be,” Landers said.
The books Landers sent will be used to teach students in primary school through eighth grade. He collected textbooks, fiction and nonfiction books. Landers plans to stay in contact with the African Library Project and said he hopes he can work with them in the future.