Friday, December 7, 2012

Pack & Send Books to Africa - Countdown to Christmas - Day 7

Sophia, Olivia, and I have been working with the African Library Project since April 2012 to create a library for Moorosi Primary School in Quthing, Africa (about 15 miles from Lesotho). Quthing is a small, rural town that has a primary school with over 250 students, 5 teachers, and no  library.

This week we packed 1,037 books in 20 boxes for the primary school.

The "packing center" with Olivia (in the front by Montague)
preparing boxes for shipping; and 
and Sophia (behind a box near the Christmas tree)
writing letters to enclose in the boxes.

After the books were in the boxes, we put one book on top along with a photograph that tied into a book.

Sophia writing a letter to the children at Moorosi Primary School.
She then attached the letter and photograph to a book.

We included a personal note that either Sophia or I wrote explaining the picture and how it related to the book.

Sophia writing another letter.
Between Sophia and me, we wrote 20 letters that were 
each matched with a picture and book.

Today we worked from about 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. writing the notes; finishing packing and sealing the boxes; labeling each box; measuring and weighing each box to ensure it came in under the required size and weight; and crossing out with a black marker any words or images on the boxes.

Olivia crossing off any words or images on the sides of the boxes.

After we were done, we stacked the boxes by the Christmas tree to see what 1,037 books looked like.

Olivia, Sophia, and Shadow by the boxes.

At this point, we were both relieved that this part of the process was done...and equally as excited thinking about how children a half a world away will be able to check these books out of their new library. We were so happy that they will be reading many of the same books that we have enjoyed reading throughout the years.

A full view of all the boxes stacked and 
ready to be loaded in the Jeep.

Once we were done, we loaded them into the Jeep and drove to the post office. We unloaded the boxes there onto a cart since there were so many and they were about 20-29 pounds each.

Olivia, Sophia, and me 
by the cart with the boxes of books.

Then we waited while the boxes were weighed and the proper amount of postage affixed to them. By the time we were done, it was about 3:00 p.m.

The cart at the post office.
They were ready to be weighed at this point.

Six hours of work today by the three of us - 18 hours total. This is on top of the time we spent each night this week assembling and packaging the boxes.

Was it worth it? Absolutely!

The letter I sent to the principal along with a photo of my Dad 
(who was our inspiration for doing this project) and a list of donors
who helped make the Moorosi Primary School a reality.

As I wrote in the letter to the principal (Mary Foyna) of Moorosi Primary School:

One of the reasons we wanted to help you create your first library, Ms. Fonya, is because we believe in the positive impact books can have on the lives of children and adults. Reading has been an important part of Sophia’s and Olivia’s lives since they were babies when I would read to them each day.

When I was growing up, I remember my mother reading to me at home and taking me to “story hour” at the public library. My father, who was a school social worker (like a counselor who helped troubled children), would bring home books from the school that he thought that I would enjoy reading. 

On Saturdays when I was in elementary-high school, we would go to the public library almost every week. Books opened my mind and my world. We hope that books will do the same thing for the children at Moorosi Primary School.

Because books were such an important part of my childhood thanks to my parents and the girls felt reading was such an important part of their lives, we wanted to do something special to honor the memory of my father, Deacon Donald Rinkenberger, who believed in education, reading, and opportunities for all children.

A picture and information about my Dad.

My father died earlier this year, on January 5, 2012. It was one day before his 80th birthday. He would have supported our efforts to collect books and ship them to Africa. He would have wanted to see the children’s faces when they saw the books in their new library. Their enthusiasm for reading and seeing books in their own library at Moorosi Primary School would have given him much joy.

Likewise, it gives us considerable joy to humbly present you with the books and learning materials. May they inspire a love for reading and learning in all those who use them.

So, that's how we spent the seventh day of the Countdown to Christmas. By far, it has been the largest and most rewarding project that we have undertaken. 


What Remains Now said...

This brings a tear to my eye. Books have always been important to me. I can't imagine not having them in my life. What a beautiful thing you and the girls did. Can you imagine what will happen in the minds and spirits of the kids when they get these books! So wonderful.

Rita said...

I am reading everything, but not commenting all the time because I am so far behind--but I had to say that this was such a wonderful project!! Nice that you all wrote letters. Yours was thoughtful and a nice tribute. Congrats!! :)