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Duo gives libraries vital facelift

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Public libraries are vital as storehouse of knowledge; they mould character of cities. Yet, most public libraries are in dilapidated conditions and require a facelift.

At the end of 2018, author Wanjiru Koinange and publisher Angela Wacuka, founders of Book Bunk, conducted a research and found out that contrary to popular opinion that Kenyan’s don’t read, 300 people were walking in and out of public libraries every single day to use them. For this reason, three years ago, they set up Book Bunk to give public libraries a new lease of life after decades of neglect.

“Our mission is to restore public libraries, to convert them not just from a physical perspective but also from a social and experiential perspective. In a sense, what are other people doing in their spaces, what

are they getting access to, what are they reading and what kind of services are in public that we can bring to the libraries,” starts Wanjiru.

They have three projects, with Macmillan Memorial Library as the flagship and others in Makadara and Kaloleni in Nairobi. Two years before the renovations, the duo spent time doing a lot of programming work, events and research, and when the funds came, they began physical restoration, starting with Kaloleni.

However, Covid-19 happened and with it came new rules and regulations on how construction work should continue. At that point, the two had already hired 28 people as casual labourers for the project. Luckily, by the time the new regulations were set, they had already done the bulk of renovation and all that was left was just painting and tiling, which could be done by fewer staff members.

“It didn’t feel right for them to stop because they were relying on the cash to survive. We began looking at how they could space out work, even though it would take longer, but it meant that we could still keep them. They were able to do that and currently they have completed the renovation of first branch,” she says Though risky, they used local people to work on the project to make them feel part and parcel of it. Since land grabbing is prevalent in these areas, most locals look at those who walk in with projects suspiciously, thus educating them on the project’s significance was not a walk in the park.

“It wasn’t a one day or week event to convince people of our intention. We had to go there time and again trying to sell the idea to them that public spaces can be beautiful and functional whether they are in Runda or Kaloleni,” says Wanjiru.

The Kaloleni project is now complete and the community is vigilant in safeguarding it and ensuring that there is no vandalism.

Working with the government has been a challenge and a bonus for the pair. A challenge because bureaucracy in these institutions makes things drag than they would if handled by a private entity. Nevertheless, meeting kind people in offices made it easier for them navigate things that could have take a long time to deal with. The second challenge has been financing their project.

Operational funding “Operational funding is our greatest challenge. It’s shocking to me that in this day and age, people still expect to have their

names on the building when they support a project without even catering for salaries of people who do the work. Wacuka and I struggle to find cash to pay our people’s salaries, to give the people committed to the project good life and not have to worry about anything. It breaks my heart all the time because we don’t struggle to find money for events or research, yer for salaries, it is a struggle,” she explains.

The pandemic has made the two think of future libraries, which is leaning towards being more technological.

“We are currently creating a framework on what digital adoption will look like. The Makadara Library is full of university students and teenagers, which will force us go digital because young people in that age bracket are using technology. This means we must have plans for high speed internet, tablets and we must also have a place where people can experiment with coding; that’s the future of libraries. I think libraries as public spaces needs to evolve into more of community centres instead of rooms full of books. This evolution cannot ignore tech or it’s bound to fail,” she adds.

With Macmillan, they are trying to Africanise the library.

Library and culture “When the Macmillan Library was opened in 1931, black people weren’t allowed in. Presently, if you look at the collection, you’ll realise the content was not meant for Kenyans. On the other hand, the library in Kaloleni is such a significant one in our history, but no one talks about. The building became the unofficial parliament before it was even set up,” she says.

The pair has been trying to reconnect libraries with cultures and to have African literature and art represented.

Understanding the youths are idle during this pandemic and that going to libraries has been prohibited due to health risks at the moment, the organisation has also been trying to take the library to the local’s homes.

“We hired people to find out how many children live in every single estate and in Kaloleni, we found out that they were about 190 children. We appealed to our partners and friends for colouring books, toys and novels and walked around giving the kids in their homes,” she recalls So far, Kaloleni was just a pilot project in as far as the book donation drive was concerned. They plan to do this in Makadara as well.

“The future is more libraries and we want to create a template, which can be replicated in as many libraries as possible. We want to create a team in whatever spaces that we can who can carry out the work and have more libraries than bars,” she says in conclusion.

FACTS
• Wanjiru is a writer and has recently released a book, Havoc of Choice.

• Angela Wacuka was the director of Kwani Trust for around eight years and that’s when she met Wanjiru and the two became friends. Wanjiru started assisting Wacuka manage her events and that’s how their work relationship was borne.

• While Wanjiru is good at management and administration, Wacuka is an incredible networker and communicator.

• They have sessions where they ask each other how they are doing. They have also a small staff who check on them and give their expertise instead of doing it all on their own.

BY PD.CO.KE


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Business

Deep-Dive Analysis: Studying Master’s At Jacksonville State University

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BY BOB MWITI

Have you ever wondered what it takes to study your master’s in America?. Well, in this episode of Success With Bob Mwiti Show, I take a deep-dive analysis of taking your master’s at Jacksonville State University. If you like my work, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

A Little Bit About Me!

I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS Financials and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) here in USA. I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida, USA.

I’ve been blessed to have learned a lot in my career as an IT consultant. My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself. Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own online business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.On the internet, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.

Keep your dream alive and never give up! To learn about my company’s amazing programs, please go to;

www.appstecamerica.com or www.successwithbobmwiti.com

Contact me at;
success@successwithbobmwiti.com
info@appstecamerica.com
+1 813-573-5619 ext 402


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Education

How I ended up in Grade 3 at age 24

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If Simon Peter, 24, was born without disability, he would have been in his final year at the University. But since he is a special needs child, he is now at Grade 4.

Born in Chikudum, South Sudan, Simon a refugee at the Kakuma Camp was born with a condition known as Hemiplegia: paralysis of half of the body. His disability made him join school at an advanced age as he had no wheelchair to help him reach a school, most of which were far from home. His chance to join school came only when his family moved to a city.

“Growing up with Hemiplegia has been challenging. I never got a chance to socialise and play with other children. I was indoors often. There was no school that could enrol me because of my condition. I started class one in 2016 at the age of 14,” he says.

However, due to political instability and war in South Sudan in 2018, Simon’s education was halted. When he came to Kenya in 2019, he immediately enrolled in Future Primary School in Kakuma Refugee Camp and joined Class Three through the help of Finn Church Aid Special Needs Education project. The organisation issued him with a wheelchair.

“I used to carry him wherever he needed to go. It is a relief that I can wheel him to school, and he manages the school day by himself while I report to other duties. Then I pick him up after the classes”, says Simon’s guardian Mark Loyiel.

Simon now mingles with his classmates, all younger than him and has made new friends and family. His classmates are friendly and usually make sure they get to him to all the places he is supposed to be.

The project also trains teachers on inclusive education that bridges language barriers of refugee learners and prepares teachers to meet their needs.

So far the project has trained 69 teachers and supported 275 children and youth with disabilities that live in the refugee camp to go back to school by getting wheelchairs, stationaries, textbooks, school uniforms and food. They also actively involve parents and guardians in supporting the special needs education.

By PD.co.ke


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Diaspora

Life In America No One Tells You About

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BY BOB MWITI

Life in America no one tells you about. In this video, you will learn the following.

1.My journey to the US

2.Opportunities in USA

3.Challenges immigrants face in USA

4.How to transition from a student to a skilled worker in corporate America

5.The attractions & opportunities in the city Of Tampa

A Little Bit About Me!

I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS Financials and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) here in USA. I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida, USA.

I’ve been blessed to have learned a lot in my career as an IT consultant. My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself. Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own online business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.On the internet, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.

Keep your dream alive and never give up! To learn about my company’s amazing programs, please go to;

www.appstecamerica.com or www.successwithbobmwiti.com

Contact me at;
success@successwithbobmwiti.com
info@appstecamerica.com
+1 813-573-5619 ext 402


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