The day begins with a visit to the National Association of NGOs (NANGO) which has a small resource centre used by researchers and students. The next stop is an informal school run by the Viva Network, situated in the compound of Harare’s Presbyterian church. Viva Network run a number of informal schools for street children and obtained BAI books from the Harare Distribution Committee about a year ago. The books are kept in plastic boxes with games and other educational resources.
I sit in on an interactive reading of the Dr Seuss classic The Cat in the Hat which is followed up with a cat in the hat jigsaw puzzle which the kids takes turns to complete. Some of the older children are read or read themselves English readers and a book of folk tales in Shona, the local language. The school I visited has 60-70 children and the best will get support to go onto more formal schooling, and some former pupils now work for the Viva Network itself. The books are giving them a good start and are clearly enjoyed.
After the Viva Network, it is back to the world of academia with a visit to the Zimbabwe Open University, which like Open Universities elsewhere, aims to make higher education more accessible. I visit their regional centre library which is small for the number of students they have. BAI books are clearly in much demand, but much more are needed in subjects like economics, counselling, sports development and agriculture. And the centre I am visiting is one of ten! Nearly half the books must be from BAI and they have had no money to buy books for 3-4 years.
I end the day visiting the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) which aims to empower women through the provision of information. The resource centre is well organised and has room for quite a number of readers, and the users range from students and researchers to NGO workers, and four of the users that I talk to are studying at the Women’s University that I visited yesterday. To extend their services, ZWRCN are also working with two library services that I will be visiting next week – the Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library in Gwanda and the Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme based in Bulawayo. In the evening I give a talk to Harare Central Rotary Club and once again it is clear that the work of Rotary here in Zimbabwe is very supportive of BAI’s book donation programme.