As you may or may not know, I am a United States Peace Corps Volunteer serving proudly in a country called Lesotho (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesotho for more information). My primary responsibility as a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) is as a teacher in Tebellong Secondary School, located in the Qacha’s Nek district.
This beautiful, rural school, set on the side of a mountain, hosts 250 Basotho students, Forms A through E (Think grades 8-12 in the US). These students have a great interest in learning, but their resources for doing so, both in and outside of school, are extremely limited. Fortunately, my school does have a library, thanks to a prior PCV’s effort. The children LOVE reading, they will sit for hours and pour through encyclopedias, poetry anthologies and anything they can get their hands on. When reading in the library they ask involved, interesting questions and want nothing more than to dive into the worlds the books provide. However, this library needs books that are more age-appropriate and new materials for the students. There are a few hundred books in there now, but many of them are well above the level my students can read at, and many others are not challenging, though they tear through them despite this. Because of this, I am asking for your help.
The African Libraries Project (http://africanlibrariesproject.org) provides support in building and filling libraries in Botswana, Swaziland, and Malawi, and Lesotho. Their primary function is as (relatively very cheap) cross-Atlantic transporters. The one thing I need on the stateside for my school’s library is to consolidate 250-1,000 books for shipping to Africa. My mother, Barbara Burk, has graciously volunteered to assist in the stateside efforts and will thus serve as my American liaison.
The books should be gently used or new and should be of the following types:
Children’s fiction and non-fiction
Teacher’s books (the teachers can greatly benefit from resource)
Encyclopedias less than 15 years old
Accurate, up-to-date atlases
Books with universal themes (friendships, animals, love... The children will ultimately try to read anything, but their world is rather limited so plots involving specialized interests may be lost on them)
Books like Chicken Soup for the Soul (inspiring stories with life skills lessons)
Books about Africa or African Americans
Brainteasers, flash cards, educational games and puzzles
Even more important would be access to textbooks, and any other educational aides for the following subjects from grades 5-12 (the testing is standardized and based on a British exam)
Math books, including Algebra, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus
English books (focusing on grammar or comprehension, especially for ESL learners)
Geography books (Most of the kids had never seen a map before one was presented this year)
Health books (general is great, but anything regarding HIV/AIDs education is especially pertinent as the country has a 23% infection rate)
Science books including general science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics books (again, these should be aimed towards middle/high schoolers)
The books can be dropped off at/shipped to
104 Juniper Dr
Freehold, NJ 07728
My mother is also frequently at Brookdale Community College, so dropoffs can be arranged there as well, I'm sure.
I am hoping to get a school or schools involved (possibly a book store or two as well) so that books can be dropped off at those locations, but for now, focusing on digging through old books that you have access to would be more than enough. If you would like to contribute books, time, or help, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org (though my access to the internet is rather haphazard here).
You can also reach me at
Brett Burk, PCV
Qacha’s Nek 600, Lesotho
Take note that it may take up to two months for me to respond to snail mail as the mail systems in place in the country are slow compared to America’s.
You can also check out my blog at http://itswhatyouwill.blogspot.com where I’ll make sure to post updates and it can be used to contact other people involved.
Thank you so much!
Brett Michael Burk