Building a village library in Nigeria inspired by a young girl whose only Christmas request for years has been for more books to read.
Be a Hero in Oluchi’s story. Plant a village library ~ by Nene Ikpechukwu
Who is Oluchi?
Oluchi is a fifteen-year-old girl who resides in Amaba village, Isuikwuato, Abia state, Nigeria. The road to Isuikwuato is caved in and so is the regional economy. Considered a reluctant retirement ground, the inhabitants are primarily small-time farmers with one foot braced on hard soil and the other firmly rooted in poverty. Oluchi lives here. A bright, vivacious, girl who speaks boldly, wants to be a scientist, and loves to devour books. She especially likes tales of adventure with powerful heroines and enchanted places, but any old fiction novel would do. However, books are so hard to find. The only books in her school library are outdated textbooks, so she resorts first to asking, then negotiating and finally outrightly begging visitors from the city for books. Her most desperate scheme is a sharing system in which she borrows a book from a visitor at night, so that as the visitor sleeps, she can read all night and return it unharmed in the morning. I met Oluchi in such a manner. An avid reader myself, I brought back three books to read during my Christmas visit. I left with one book and inspiration from Oluchi’s undying devotion.
Why a library?
Oluchi is not alone. She has a sister who wishes to be a lawyer and has also adopted Oluchi’s bright outlook and thirst for reading. She has friends who gathered on my moonlit balcony and piled thin limbs into white plastic chairs, simply to listen to a reading of The Alchemist. In her neighborhood, there are children who have dropped out of school due to poverty, but who still scramble with her for the few books I now bring back, clasping them jealously to their chests. In her town, there are 8,042 children with similar stories, similar backgrounds and similar limitations. All these children can still dream through ink and deserve a chance to do so. They deserve a variety of dreams too; fueled by a myriad of notions whispered between the turn of a page. They deserve knowledge, an education and the hope of a brighter future. They deserve books.
What’s the plan?
We are building a medium-sized library, open to all of the community and primarily community-managed, with free borrowing and a host of other fun activities. It will service the entire local government which consists of over 12 villages. The Amaba community (Oluchi’s village) has shown support for this project by donating 1010 sqm of land adjacent to the village square. So, all money will be directed towards building and stocking the library, training the managers, and landscaping. Visit the Book Bunker Website to Learn More
In preparation for this project, we were struck by the pervasiveness of this issue across Nigeria. Nigeria currently has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. The public-school system is underfunded and overwhelmed, and cannot work alone. So we registered as an NGO (Book Bunker Foundation) with the goal of building and supporting a network of village libraries. We consider the Isuikwuato library to be our pilot project, and a gift to the girl who inspired us to look closer and take action. If you would like to get involved in the project or partner with us, please visit www.bookbunker.org . We would love for you to join us on our heroic quest to spark hope in all children’s minds.
The library Design
A community cut off
A Love of Reading
Thank you for your support
- SEBASTIEN JULES BIANCHI
- Rushda Khan
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