Cheers and tears as Stevenage woman opens Kenyan library for deprived children – and sees numbers rocket
- Credit: Archant
A shipping container transformed into a library for deprived children in Africa has registered more than 700 members in less than a week since it opened.
The £5,000 needed by charity Just Be A Child to establish the library in Kenya was raised after the Comet ran an appeal for help.
The charity was founded in 2013 by Lenka McAlinden, who lives in Stevenage’s Lindens, following a trip to Kenya and aims to support children living in the country.
The 39-year-old sent 7,500 donated books and other resources to Ukunda, and adults and children there have been working hard for weeks to help her convert the container into a library for the coastal town.
On Friday – six days after opening – the library had 734 registered members, with children crowded round the entrance desperate to get their hands on a book and get reading. There were a number of obstacles Lenka and her team had to overcome to reach their goal of opening the library, including financial issues and practical problems such as getting the container to the site.
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Lenka said: “It’s so busy and it’s so fantastic to see the smiles, the curiosity and the happiness it brings.
“A huge thank you to everyone who helped, because without you it would have been impossible.
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“To officially open the library, we danced to some music, jumped on a trampoline, ate many sweets and finally untied a ribbon. There were cheers and some tears of joy. I was glad the gruelling time of getting it ready was finally over. Then, as became our tradition, we ate. Every single one of us - approximately 300 - stuffed our bellies with delicious snacks.
“I am so excited and the community has been fantastic – turning up every day in huge numbers to help.”
Several boxes will be filled with children’s books and given to about 10 schools in the area, which can be returned and exchanged for different books after a period of time.
For more information about the charity, visit www.justbeachild.com.