Builder or an electrician? A Stevenage charity needs your help to create 40 libraries in deprived African communities

PUBLISHED: 16:59 27 October 2019

Just Be A Child's fourth library in Kenya is proving popular. Picture: Lenka McAlinden.

Just Be A Child's fourth library in Kenya is proving popular. Picture: Lenka McAlinden.

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A charity is appealing for help in reaching its ambitious goal of creating 40 libraries in deprived African communities by 2030.

Just Be A Child was set up by Stevenage resident Lenka McAlinden in 2013 following a trip to Kenya. The charity builds playgrounds and transforms shipping containers into libraries in the African country, opening its fourth library in September.

Since 2015, people in Hertfordshire have donated more than 90,000 books that are being read by more than 350,000 children in Kenya.

Now Lenka and her team have their sights set on establishing 40 libraries by 2030 and are creating a warehouse near Hitchin to store thousands of donations of books, toys and stationery.

Lenka said: "Plans for growth are being formed. We will buy two 40 foot storage containers and join them together - replacing our 20 foot storage container, which is bursting at the seams.

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"Builders and electricians will be needed, and advice on efficient organisation of a warehouse would be great.

"We aim to have this done by the end of January, leaving us with five months to sort, count and pack over 30,000 books."

The charity aims to provide two more Kenyan communities with libraries next summer.

To help fundraise, JBAC will be selling hot chocolate at the Christmas lights switch-on in Stevenage's Town Square on November 30.

Lenka said: "Spurred by trying to fulfil our ambitious vision of building 40 libraries by 2030 we are looking at how else to promote what we do and raise funds. If you have an idea for a fundraising activity, please get in touch, or if you would like to join us at any point, please do. We need all the help we can get."

And Lenka is keen to stress how rewarding JBAC's work is. A member of the Chidzangoni community - where the charity established its first library in 2016 - said: "Our village was very quiet before and now is very busy and active. Before this project, our children were idle, especially when the schools were closed during the holidays. But things have changed. A number of children are now speaking English because they regularly come to the library to read books. The library also has craft sessions, toys and space to work. The children's grades are much improved across all subjects."

If you can help JBAC, call 07737 500501 or email info@justbeachild.com.

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