Title Explanation

When predicting the sex of an unborn baby, the Oracle of Delphi is said to have claimed that it would be a "Boy No Girl." She thus covered both outcomes, as one could interpret the statement as "Boy. No girl," if the child was born male or "Boy, no-- girl," if the child was born female. Living in Ethiopia, it's difficult to know my role. Am I a foreigner, a "ferengi," or am I a local, like the Habesha? Sometimes, I'm a little bit of both.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peace Corps Ethiopia Literacy Projects Nationwide


That's what we're talking about today.  Books.  Why?  Because across Ethiopia, intrepid Peace Corps Volunteers have taken initiative and used their supportive friends and family back home to help provide these life-changing literacy supplies to their students.

If you follow Ferengi No Habesha, then you're probably familiar with my own Better World Books Project to help supply my Read-Aloud Program at a local school here with my director friend, Belay.  My goal is to obtain a modest amount of juicy picture books that are rich in content and can be used to model good reading practices.  I'm looking for books that I can use to help young students practice making predictions, making inferences, and make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections.  Books that have repetition (good for predictions!), books that imply points through pictures and words (inferences!) and books that are relevant to my students lives (connections!) are what I'm primarily going for.

But I'm not the only one collecting solid picture books, and the idea is not new.  The first couple to start a book donation program was Daniel and Danielle up in Adwa back in December of last year.  They ended up with about 100 books, which they used "to jump-start a Reading Raffle once a month at three schools (like Book-It, but without the pizza)," according to Danielle.

Here's what their initial blog post says about their project:

"Adi-Mahleka, a school where I have English Club every Friday, has not a single children’s book in their library. Not in Tigrigna, not in Amharic, not in English. Zero. They’ve got textbooks galore, but what child is going to read those? Adua, another of my schools, has maybe 10 children’s books: a feat I nearly jumped and sang for.
Betterworldbooks.com is a website that works much like Toms shoes: you buy a book online (free worldwide shipping!) and they donate another to someone in need. We know firsthand that this donation process is legit; just two months ago, a handful of our volunteers received 500 boxes of books from this donation program (some of which were given to us for Adwa schools, when they had overflow). Daniel and I have created a wishlist for the schools in Adwa: which means, if you buy one book (average cost 5-7 dollars, again no shipping!), another is still being donated. That’s two books for children who have none, for the price of two Starbuck’s drinks.
In other words—pretty please?"

The idea was so simple, it was rapidly picked up by other volunteers.  Sarah and Aaron Arnold started their own book donation project in Bahir Dar in October of this year.  They mentioned the Books for Africa project that was done by the education group before us, G5.  Many of us were lucky to get some spill-over books from that project, but I found the books to be of lower quality (and therefore not as much use) as I was expecting.  Still, I'm always grateful for books, no matter what, and I've put them to good use.

According to their wish list they've received 65 books, although Sarah says it's around 70 now.

Inspired by the Arnolds, Emily S kicked off her own book drive and received "around 300".  The project really took off from there, with nine other PCVs including myself launching their own projects and appealing to the goodness of their friends and families hearts.  Here are the current book projects happening in Ethiopia and the numbers and success they have found so far, in no particular order:

Purpose of Project
Date Started
Number of Books So Far
To get books in the hands of students.

Dec 29, 2012
About 100
Bahir Dar
To expand a take-home library for primary OVCs.

Oct 4, 2013
About 70
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Oct 7, 2013
About 300
To help students improve their English in fun, creative ways.

Oct 23, 2013
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Dec 3, 2013
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Oct 23, 2013
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Nov 2, 2013
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Nov, 2, 2013
To supply a reading program with read-alouds and independent reading.

Nov 9, 2013
To create a reading culture and increase literacy in her community.

Dec 8, 2013
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Nov 12, 2013
To build a mini library and foster a reading culture.

Dec 1, 2013
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Apr 3, 2013
Aleta Wondo
To stock a library and foster a reading culture.

Dec 4, 2013
To supply a read-aloud program for students and teachers.

Oct 23, 2013
17 PCVs
15 Communities
9 libraries, 6 programs and literacy activities
1588 Books

For more about these projects, please click on a volunteer's name to visit their blog or document where they request books.  And because a picture's worth a thousand words, here's some photographic results of some of these projects (photos borrowed with implied consent):

From Ashley in Hawassa:

A quote celebrating reading at Adare Primary School in Hawassa

Students reading at Adare Primary School in Hawassa

From Emily in Dangila:


And After!  Look at those smiling faces!

From Lacy in Yirgalem:

The Ras Desta English Club in Yirgalem

From Jackie in Durame:

A student grins over a book in Durame

Students read in Durame

UPDATE Dec 15: A fancy map showing the locations of all these communities, and a pie chart showing each volunteer's contribution.

This post will be updated as new numbers come in and new projects start.  But I would like to thank everyone right now, volunteers and donors alike, for your hard work and generosity with all of these projects.  Together, we've managed to bring in 1,588 books and counting to this great nation.  Thanks so much, to everyone!

1 comment:

  1. How inspiring! Carlin, would you be interested in contributing a guest post to blog.betterworldbooks.com? If so, please direct message us on Facebook or Twitter. –BWB