Friday 14th May – to prison (and then home)

My last day in Zimbabwe begins with a visit to a university library we have not supported before and which is temporarily located in Bulawayo until its campus in Lupane, 170km away, is ready. Lupane State University Library is situated in one small room with just a couple of rows of shelving. The university is still small with 500 students and only a few programmes in agriculture, development and linguistics/communication but the library is clearly inadequate and would benefit tremendously from BAI support. The temporary campus is located in buildings vacated by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), which has shrunk in size over the years, but still employs 9000 people, and their library, just around the corner, is my next destination. The library is utilising an old chapel building but is surprisingly spacious and BAI books such as A-Level texts and in engineering and computer skills are very well used.

Next up, I head for prison, and this will be the fourth time I have been inside for BAI! On the way, old steam engines are passed at the railway museum. Bulawayo Prison is a remand prison and the the prison service is trying to reinvigorate its library here in Bulawayo, and at other prisons, including Khami Maximum Security Prison, where educational programmes are also run. The prison yard is full of inmates hanging around and books offer them a way to use their time well. At Khami prison, over 100 inmates are studying for various exams, including O Level and A Level, and they have just received their first books from BAI. This is part of a real effort to reform prisons in Zimbabwe and start a genuine rehabilitation programme. In contrast, not so long ago, many inmates were dying in prison from lack of food and supplies, but this was at a time when food was scarce for everyone. Fortunately, things are now much better so food for the mind is now also much needed.

I get out of jail free and head straight for the airport to start my long journey home.

Go back to Book Aid International’s Website

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