Community Library in Malawi

In Malawi, "Kwakupokela" means "the place you come to receive gifts." About 6 months ago, a friend introduced me to this abandoned library site, full of books (and rain water, mold, and a lot of dust).  It broke my heart that here was this beautiful building, full of books, and thousands of kids nearby who did not have access to them.  It was only abandoned due to the failing health of the wonderful woman who started it in the 1980's.

We built a team and got to work. The walls were painted, the roof is being patched (but needs replacing), the doors were unlocked, and cleaning and processing all of the books began through 100% volunteer support from within the surrounding communities.  Wezzie, Dennis, and Stephen are our hard working volunteer librarians.

We found a lawyer who volunteered his time to help us establish the Kwakupokela Education Trust in Malawi, so we can open a local bank account and fundraise within Malawi, as we will also apply for local NGO support.

In December 2017, we are working on establishing partnerships within Mzuzu University Department of Library Sciences and with libraries in the United States that are helping to ensure its sustainability. Currently, one of our U.S. friends of Kwakupokela is arranging to send us donations of books, written by African authors and publishers. We are so grateful for more relevant material for our readers! Betty and all of us say Thank You!!

Thus far, we have gotten a lot done through hard work from the community and donations from members of our board of directors and a couple of close friends.  We are having our Grand Opening of the Kwakupokela Library this Saturday, 16 December, 2017 and it will be a grand celebration with a BBQ (brai), songs, dance, and of course, plenty of reading activities.

But our vision and current expenses are requiring that we ask for more support. 100% of the donations I receive through this site will be used for the library. I will personally assume any expenses associated with transfering funds from the U.S. to Malawi.  $1 USD goes a long way in Malawi (1 USD = 735 Malawi Kwacha).

The money raised will be used for a new roof (our current tile roof is old and needs replacement, but as of now, we are patching the holes to get through our current rainy season). The estimate of a new (metal sheet) roof is about $500 USD.  We also plan to wire electricity to the library from nearby electric lines, and through our partnership with Mzuzu Univesity set-up a small computer lab. We'd also like to eventually place a copier/printer in the library to be a revenue generator. Our current volunteers have worked with zero monetary compensation for months. They are using personal hours where they might otherwise find paying jobs. For many people that live on less than $20 USD per month, it's a big sacrifice.  We will also use funds raised to pay them a small salary for their hard work and dedication.

We are already keeping a detailed log book of funds coming in and how they are spent, so that every dollar (or in this case, Kwacha) is accounted for.  We have a long way to go, but the team and relationships we're building will ensure this library's sustainability. I will personally keep you all updated on its progress and development through this site and/or personal emails. While I will return to the U.S. in June 2018, I will remain a part of the team supporting the Kwakupokela library and look forward to returning to the Warm Heart of Africa to celebrate all of its future successes.

Meet, Felix, the head of the Mzuzu University Department of Library Sciences, who is currently working hard to propose a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Vice Chancellor of the University, to establish this exciting partnership.

Meet just one of the thousands of students who will benefit from this library.

From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You for your donation!!!
  • Guy Babbitt 
    • $100 
    • 43 mos
  • Khurshid and Jeff Rogers 
    • $100 
    • 44 mos
  • Marie Benedix 
    • $100 
    • 44 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $75 
    • 44 mos
  • Terry Clarke Murphy 
    • $50 
    • 44 mos
See all


Julie Chiaravalli 
Denver, CO
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