BuCL’s new women’s literacy and nutrition project

BuCL has an exciting new project in the works. Deborah Waibi has begun working with women in the community to increase their knowledge of food nutrition and to teach sustainable methods of cultivating fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods.

Deborah has begun the project by bringing together a small group of the community’s most influential women, teaching them reading and writing skills, and simultaneously sharing seeds and gardening expertise. She is setting up sample gardens on the library’s land in order to demonstrate sustainable, small-scale agricultural methods. Aiming to reach as many families as possible, she will be encouraging this group of women to share their acquired knowledge and extra seeds with their neighbours.

The women are also being encouraged to reserve these new healthy foods for their families. Women’s crops are often sold by their husbands for cash, and so Deborah’s husband John has begun his own initiative. He has begun distributing fruit tree seedlings to men in the community, following up with them to ensure the trees are being properly cared for. These visits allow him to spend time speaking to the community’s men about the importance of supporting their wives in this project. He has been encouraging them to take an active interest in ensuring that their children are provided with enough nutritious food.

In addition to literacy and agriculture, the project aims to introduce a third focus: a small-scale women’s income generating initiative. Hopefully the library will soon be able to sell handicrafts made by the women in this group!

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BuCL celebrates National Book Week

When I arrived at BuCL’s Book Week celebration, I was amazed to discover that Deborah and a few female relatives were in the middle of preparing a meal to feed over 150 guests. The generosity of this gesture (as money for this was not included in their Book Week budget), was just incredible.

Feeding this many people took hours. People were served in age groups, beginning with the smallest children, and dishes had to be washed and rotated many times between servings. For many of the children, this event is likely one of a handful to times they will have eaten meat this year. They all appeared to enjoy the food – massive amounts of posho, rice, matooke, beans and meat.

A local music and dance group performed throughout the meal. They were fabulous, and their performance was very well received. Afterward, John Waibi-Walubi, the library’s director, gave a speech on the role of the library and its importance in the community. It was a wonderful chance to speak directly to the parents of the library’s primary users (who are mostly school-aged children). The parents then had a chance to tour the library, to listen to a few more speeches, and to see their children perform songs, drama, and poetry readings.

It was nightfall before people began to leave, and I believe this event will have greatly promoted the library in the community. We hope that this will result in an increased number of library patrons regularly using BuCL’s resources.

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Construction of the new library begins

For the last year, BuCL has been located in the Waibi-Walubi’s family compound. John and Deborah have dedicated two rooms of their house to serve as the library, and they have been inviting community members into their home every day for the library’s activities.

Although very generous on their part, this arrangement was never meant to last forever. As a community-led project, it is very important to establish the library in a location where every member of the community will feel comfortable and at ease, and where the primary users of the library, Bunalwenhi’s students, will have easy access.

For this reason, John has donated a plot of land next to Bunalwenhi’s secondary school, located along a main road. Within the next few years, it is anticipated that power will extended to Bunalwenhi, and in this new location, the library will benefit from much easier access to electricity. As well, this location will allow the library greater security, as the school has a night watchman who can help prevent theft.

Using his own money, John has begun work on the library’s foundation. A building plan and budget have been commissioned and delivered, so the building process is ready to begin. We have secured a small amount of money to begin the project, but have not yet reached our target of $4000.

If anyone is interested in helping with fund-raising and would like ideas on how to raise money, or if you would like more information about the building plans, please contact us at: bunalwenhilibrary@gmail.com

If you would like to donate, please visit our website: http://bunalwenhi.org. Please make sure that you note that you would like your donation to go towards the Bunalwenhi building project.

If all goes well, the new library will be operational by January! The whole community seems to know about the plan, and everyone is very excited. BuCL, and all our library users thank you for all your support!

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Arts and crafts at the library

Thursday evenings at BuCL now include a children’s arts and crafts session. Our librarian and assistant are experimenting with a number of craft ideas, some traditional, some not, and last week they decided to test out rope making with banana fiber.

To prepare for this session, all we had to do was cut down a few armfuls of banana fiber from some nearby trees. The banana fiber was soaked in water for a few hours, and then cut into strips. Many of the older children already knew exactly what to do, while the younger ones required a bit of guidance. Their fingers deftly worked the banana fiber into strong, tight ropes. You could tell that they took serious pride in their workmanship.

After the ropes were finished, it was game time! The children were very surprised to see that a muzungu could skip. I guess they didn’t realize that people jump rope all over the world!

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Musical Chairs at BuCL

 

There is a group of local children who come to the library most evenings and they are kept occupied with silent reading, games, arts and crafts. My first day back in the village, our librarian, JK, and assistant, Stephen, decided to try out a new game. Musical chairs proved a huge success. I have never seen children laugh so exuberantly in my life.

This core group of young library patrons have been visiting regularly since the library first opened in December 2010. They range from very young toddlers to girls and boys of fourteen. The older children are often expected to care for their younger siblings, so the library does its best to organize activities that all can participate in. It seemed that all ages enjoyed playing musical chairs, especially with bazungu (white people) visitors!

 

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Canadian-authored children’s books in BuCL!

A Bunalwenhi Primary School student enjoy's Jacob Berkowitz's Jurassic Poop: What Dinosaurs and Others Left Behind

We’d like to express a greatly delayed thank you to Jacob Berkowitz for donating copies of his books to BuCL. Jacob, from Almonte Ontario, is the author of two children’s books:

Jurassic Poop: What Dinosaurs and Others Left Behind, and

Out of This World: The Amazing Search for an Alien Earth

After hearing about the BuCL project last Christmas, Jacob contacted us in Uganda and asked if he could send us his books. We were thrilled to receive them, and were happy to see that they were popular with older primary students. Our librarian is able to help the children understand the text and ideas in these book by translating difficult passages into the local language. The pictures in these books are definitely a big hit!

Just imagine the wonder and disbelief these books evoke in Bunalwenhi’s children! Thank you Jacob!

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BuCL gains a new school partner!

June’s monthly report from Bunalwenhi was brimming with news! Here are some highlights:

A new secondary school has been added to the mobile library and reading club programs! Makuutu Senior Secondary School was eager to partner with BuCL, and the students are excited to participate in the library’s programs. Books are distributed to classes for silent reading sessions, and the students are broken into groups to write short book reports to present to their classmates. JK, our librarian, described the activities as fresh, and said that the students really enjoyed themselves!

Five new primary and secondary teachers have joined as book-borrowing members. These teachers are able to take out 10 books at a time from the library, which they then share with their students. The library’s records indicate that the teachers have been returning their books promptly and checking out more!

Book presentations at Makuutu SS

Makuutu Senior Secondary School, BuCL's latest partner!

Too much giggling to pose for the camera!

A group presenting at Makuutu SS

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