Start of a new chapter as Stevenage charity opens library for deprived African children

Stevenage's Just Be A Child charity has opened another library for deprived children in Kenya.

Stevenage's Just Be A Child charity has opened another library for deprived children in Kenya. - Credit: Archant

A project to transform a shipping container into a library for deprived African children has finally been completed thanks to donations totalling £600 from Comet readers.

Stevenage's Just Be A Child charity has opened another library for deprived children in Kenya.

Stevenage's Just Be A Child charity has opened another library for deprived children in Kenya. - Credit: Archant

Just Be a Child is a charity set up by Stevenage resident Lenka McAlinden in 2013 following a trip to Kenya and aims to support children living in the country through various projects, including building playgrounds and libraries.

In June, a shipping container filled with 13,000 books, furniture, toys, tools and school uniforms set sail for Mombasa to be converted into a library.

But the project stalled when the charity was hit with a £2,000 import tax bill at the port.

An appeal in the Comet for financial help resulted in donations totalling £600, allowing the project to continue, and last week Lenka returned to Stevenage triumphant that the library had been completed.

Stevenage's Just Be A Child charity has opened another library for deprived children in Kenya.

Stevenage's Just Be A Child charity has opened another library for deprived children in Kenya. - Credit: Archant

She said: “Thanks to the Comet and the generosity of its readers we received donations that helped us settle the account and remove the container just before port storage charges kicked in.

“I know these words cannot portray how important the library projects are, how grateful the Kenyan communities are and how touched everyone is, but I hope everyone who helped our second library happen is proud of what they have achieved and is moved by their own generosity. I know we all are and we thank everyone for their support.”

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She added: “The celebration that marked the end of very hard work was well attended and, although it rained, we managed to eat, laugh and dance.

“We gave local schools hundreds of books for which we received endless words of gratitude.

“An open day followed and within two hours we enrolled 200 adults and were ambushed by at least 60 children, all at once.”

For more, visit www.justbeachild.com or search for ‘Just Be A Child’ on Facebook.

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