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Strengthening a Community: One Book at a Time

Region: West Africa
Development: Literacy
Imagine your neighborhood library shelving every single book that exists in English. Millions and millions of titles covering thousands of topics. Unfortunately, much of the world does not have access to written material in their own language. Due to lack of funding, oppression, or outright denial of their existence, many minority language speakers around the world have never even seen a book in their language. Children who attend school must learn in a second or third language. Communities are cut off from the exchange of information and ideas in global society.

ILAD is changing this reality.

In partnership with local leaders, ILAD is providing “libraries” to West African minority language speakers. Large trunks containing the 275 books published in their native language are given to the village to own and manage as free lending libraries for the entire community.

Reading clubs have arisen through a grass-roots literacy movement in villages where libraries have been provided. Through his reading, one community member, Olif*, became well versed in the medicinal properties of local plants and opened a pharmacy in a neighboring town. Olif became an advocate of literacy, traveling to several villages and encouraging people to learn how to read in their own language. With the wide variety of books available, Olif’s reading club has decided to build a school in their village to teach the children in their own language. The building has just been completed and Olif will be the principal of the school.

In 2018, eight new “trunk libraries” were opened! The reports are positive and show that these libraries are functioning well. One of the newly participating villages has already worked to gather enough money to sponsor a library in yet another village. A different community is now building 2 schools to teach children in their mother tongue language.

ILAD knows that:

  •  Providing mother tongue literacy projects is a significant way to validate the inherent worth of marginalized people.
  •  Literacy in mother tongue language provides individuals with more job opportunities and gives children the chance to attend school. These are stepping stones to alleviating poverty.

*name changed