Written above the lobby of the Université Chrétienne Bilingue Du Congo’s (UCBC) library is the famous quote by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” A powerful reminder of education’s important role promoting peace and the common good.
Education comes in various forms, but books have always played a key role in inspiring generations to learn and listen to a cacophony of voices throughout the world. Even in our digital age, books remain a powerful tool for people of all ages. But, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, access to books is limited, and in some cases non-existent.
That is why Books for Eastern Congo partnered with local schools like our own Université Chrétienne Bilingue Du Congo (UCBC) and Academié Bilingue du Congo (ABC) Primary School to deliver books into the hands of students. BFEC Founder Shannon O’Rourke has been living and working in Congo since 2011. With a background in education, Shannon noticed just how rare books were in the area.
Thanks to Shannon and other supporters of BFEC, enough money was raised to bring a shipping container with more than 27,000 books to Congo. Donors from the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa came together to donate over $27,000 USD to finance the supply and shipment of the books. Shannon worked with the US-based non-profit Books for Africa to organize the shipment and they partnered with the France-based organization ADIFLOR for the supply of French language books.
Just last week the books arrived, and UCBC received over 2,000 of them!
Books selected for UCBC were based on the university’s class offering, including theology, business, economics, law, communications, and English language. The books also include reference books such as an encyclopedia, dictionaries, atlas, etc.
ABC received over 1,000 of its own French-language children’s books from the shipment. These range from storybooks to educational and reference books. Additionally, Shannon teamed up with Helen Boelens of the Netherlands, who has helped UCBC library development in the past, to bring an additional shipment of over 1,000 English books from Europe to Congo.
Books for Eastern Congo exists to improve access to books in Eastern Congo, and to develop a culture of reading in the area. Activities with local partners include book supply and distribution, library creation, librarian training and capacity development, and organizing literacy and reading activities. You can find out more here: http://booksforeasterncongo.strikingly.com