Stevenage charity appeals for help with Kenyan library project

PUBLISHED: 08:30 24 May 2019

Kenyan children enjoy some books in one of Just Be A Child's libraries. Picture: Lenka McAlinden.

Kenyan children enjoy some books in one of Just Be A Child's libraries. Picture: Lenka McAlinden.

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A charity is appealing for help with its project to ship a library to Kenya to give villagers in a deprived community the opportunity to read.

Volunteers worked together to pack last year's shipping container. Picture: Lenka McAlinden.Volunteers worked together to pack last year's shipping container. Picture: Lenka McAlinden.

Just Be A Child was set up by Stevenage resident Lenka McAlinden in 2013 following a trip to Kenya. The charity supports children living in the country through various projects, including building playgrounds and transforming shipping containers into libraries.

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

Lenka said: "As Just Be A Child's impact grows, so grows our demand on volunteers' time, and we need more help."

People are needed between 8am and 1pm on Monday, June 3, at Dollimore and Christie in Ashbrook, near St Ippolyts, to help load boxes of books into a 40ft container, which will be shipped to Kenya this summer and transformed into a library.

Lenka McAlinden founded Just Be A Child in 2013. Picture: Kevin Lines.Lenka McAlinden founded Just Be A Child in 2013. Picture: Kevin Lines.

Lenka said: "You can stay the entire time or just an hour. And, while it is hard work, you will be looked after. Our bacon butties are plentiful, tasty and served with a smile, and our teas and coffees never stop flowing."

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She continued: "Most of us take reading for granted. We have books, journals, magazines and graphic novels and we enjoy reading them all.

"Kenyan children often grow up without ever seeing a book, and the only reading they have to do is when they sit their exams - if they are lucky enough to attend school.

"And if reading is bad, writing is even worse. The only time they really get to write is when answering those pesky exam questions they can hardly read.

"Many of those children grow up unable and unwilling to read or write. And who could blame them? Just Be A Child, with your help, is trying to change that.

"We collect books you no longer need and we ship them to Kenya where the local community rallies together to run our amazing and colourful, but more importantly, fully-stocked libraries, filled with reading material children actually want to read."

For more about the loading event on June 3, email Lenka at info@justbeachild.com or call her on 07737 500501.

The charity is also raising £10,000 to build its own storage unit. Visit mydonate.bt.com/events/jbacstorage/485943 to donate.

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