At Heady Mix, we love to learn about the lives of others globally, which is why we are excited to share that we are working on a very special fundraising project with our latest partner, Book Aid International.

Book Aid International believes that books can change lives, just as we do. They are the leading UK international book donation and library development charity. Each year they aim to provide one million brand new, carefully selected books to thousands of communities where people have few opportunities to access books and read.

Book Aid International’s vision is a world where everyone has the books they need. The charity works with a global network of library, NGO and education partners to ensure that the books it provides reach the people who need them most. Every year, the books Book Aid International sends are available to roughly 24 million people.

This work ranges over East Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan); The Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Somalia, Somaliland), West Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia), Southern Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe), Asia (Bhutan, India, Nepal), the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Occupied Palestinian Territories); and many more countries including some work in Europe and the Caribbean. Book Aid International has an extensive and strong network, all to promote reading. They train teachers, librarians, volunteers and support community libraries – not just in towns, but in hospitals, universities, prisons, refugee camps and schools. They provide grants for book purchases, help refurbish libraries, and they purchase thousands of local books each year.

Supporting hospital libraries in Uganda

At Heady Mix, we love Book Aid International’s vision that books are a wonderful way to learn, shaping a mental environment to grow effectively: creating leaders, engineers and poets.  And we share their ethos that books are vital building blocks for a nation’s children to grow, supporting their need to learn and love of knowledge.

Rwanda’s Community Container Library

Each community Book Aid International assists has different needs, but all their work starts with this same premise:

The need for books is greatest where people face conflict, displacement and discrimination – yet it is exactly these communities that are the most likely to be without a well-stocked library.

Reading offers the chance to discover new possibilities, to continue an interrupted education, to look through windows into new worlds and to start the journey toward a better future – and no one should be without books.

Today, shipping containers are being transformed into thriving community libraries in some of the most deprived and desolate areas. There is now a flourishing Community Container library in the semi-rural community of Gasave in Rwanda.  Rwanda does not have a public library network, so this new library, fully stocked and resourced with training for librarians and volunteers, is a vital resource for children. A welcoming space full of inspiring books, it will give children a place to begin to read and to dream.

Before – a shipping container arriving; After – a thriving community library

Ethiopia’s Children’s Corners

Book Aid International works with its public and community library partners across Africa to create spaces in libraries where children will have the opportunity to discover books and be able to read. The programme, called Children’s Corners, provides libraries with a grant for refurbishment, funds to purchase local books, 2,500 brand new children’s books and training in how to support young readers for local librarians. To date, the charity has opened over 150 Children’s Corners.

In Ethiopia, Book Aid International has opened a number of Children’s Corners in community-run libraries as well as the surrounding informal spaces.  For many of the children like Naol, the only other books they see are old and battered curriculum books at school.  He now loves to read, and his school work has shown improvement too.  He says:

“I visit the library daily in the afternoon. I read about three books daily. I have improved in all my subjects since I started visiting the library. I used to get 4 to 5 out of 10 but now I get 8 to 9 out of 10 in all the subjects. I love spending time in the library, it is more comfortable and the librarians help me with my assignments.”

Fikre, Librarian at Ejere Library with well displayed new books

Children at Holeta Library display their favourite books

Kakuma Refugee Camp – Books and Lamps: Solar Homework Club

The Kakuma Refugee Camp is a large camp in North West Kenya, and home to close to 200,000 people from 14 different countries; many fleeing conflict and violence.  The refugees there hope to start a new life and get an education for their children. But in such large camps, schools are oversubscribed and hugely under-resourced with exhausted teachers the main source of information.  There are added complications caused by a lack of electricity so that students can only study and complete assignments until dark; and some female students are not able to use daylight time even then as they are parenting their orphaned siblings. Security issues of being unsafe as a female to walk at night add to time pressures.

Book Aid International’s work isn’t just about books, the charity’s Solar Homework Project has created a real uplift and difference in the lives of the girls attending Morneau Shepell Secondary School for Girls, Vision Secondary School and Somali Bantu Secondary School. The project is providing solar lamps for the schools, so that students can study earlier and later if they need to, around family needs.  Plus, a new selection of curriculum support books and novels are provided, to be borrowed for after school reading. The teachers and pupils alike have found these changes very helpful.

Discovering books in Kakuma

Books for All – Voyager Container Libraries

One of the librarians, Yvonne, describes how as refugees, they are not allowed to leave the camp just to see somewhere new, they must stay – but in the long-term, education will give them a reason to be able to leave the camp.  A student, Amia, describes how before the new books arrived, it was difficult for all children to read each topic necessary before class as there were so few of them.  This would lead to poorer grades.  But now there are enough books.  She particularly praised the clear pictures for the science subjects, for visualising difficult concepts. Irene, principal of one of the schools, noted that there used to be no novels – now plenty of children read them in the ‘quiet time’ before the day begins. The children are starting to feel hope for their future: Nyaneng wants to be an engineer to support her country; Anisa to be a teacher to support the next generation of children.  Yvonne says simply:

I have read about women who have succeeded.  I believe I can succeed too.

Just as we at Heady Mix act as changemakers by calling on each of us to see other’s daily realities more intimately through books, so Book Aid International is changing lives, giving books to children who would otherwise have few or none.  The future will be different, through understanding, knowledge and education for all.

These are our shared values, so if this inspires you, sign up via the quick form below for further announcements about the upcoming Heady Mix and Book Aid International collaboration.