This is the second of our special reports from Rob, head of programmes and operations as he visits some of our projects in Ethiopia. Here’s Rob:
Ethiopia day two: reading rooms and marabou storks
In the morning, we drive a short way to Mojo to see one of CODE Ethiopia’s reading rooms, and then another short drive to see another reading room at Alem Tena. Book Aid International has been working with CODE Ethiopia for 12 years and provided over 100,000 books for their reading room programme, which has helped established community libraries all over Ethiopia. Together with books from the International Book Bank in the US and a significant range of local publications, many produced by CODE Ethiopia themselves, Book Aid International books make up a good proportion of the target 5,500 books for each library over 5 years.
The two libraries I visit have about 4,500 books so far after 4 years of support. The libraries are busy with students, one of whom, Ashenah Jambo from Mojo High School. He likes the library because there are a range of textbooks and wider reference books which will not only help him to pass exams but ultimately to become a professor at university. He tells me that ‘textbooks are not enough’ because ‘you should refer to different sources to develop your ability and adapt your knowledge’.
CODE Ethiopia’s programme works because they offer a mixture of donated books from abroad, local books, and training for teacher-librarians and library committees. However, it is a partnership model with the local community who need to provide a building and local education officers, who pay the librarian’s salaries. Tesfaye Dubale, the director, has also written some stories which are published as big books and are proving very popular in the libraries.
On the way back to Addis, we pass a Rift Valley lake, with a large number of marabou storks wading at the edge. The storks walk like old men but fly with grace but unfortunately close up look like ugly vultures with a pink sac falling from its neck, and their shape from behind gets them the nickname the undertaker bird!