We’ve decided again this year to adopt and promote our own Christmas charity on the website. It didn’t take long to decide that Book Aid International would for a second year be particularly appropriate, given that books are what writers are all about – and the very good work Book Aid is doing.
‘If education is the road out of poverty, books are the wheels needed for the journey.’
Richard Crabbe, former chairman of the African Publishers Network
There are still 113 million primary school children in the world who are receiving no education at all. Book Aid International is a charity set up provide books on a regular basis to help these children and their communities break out of the cycle of poverty. Over 50 years it has provided 26 million books to 30 of the world’s poorest countries, mostly in Africa.
The charity's ‘Reverse Book Club’ supplies 4 books for £5 - and you never receive a single one of them! This ingenious idea means that a donation of just £5 (around $9) a month can provide 48 books a year to readers in countries such as Ethiopia, Nepal and Sierra Leone.
Book Aid has been generously supported by publishers. The high value of book donations means that for every £1.50 ($2.75) cash donated, Book Aid can provide a book worth £4.70 ($8.61).
The money they’ve raised has enabled the charity to work in partnership with Malawi National Library Service to put books into 1,000 community resource centres; supply books to refugees; and work with girls to increase their literacy in Sierra Leone. Books are supplied to libraries, hospitals and schools. In the longer run, Book Aid is working to support the growth of local publishing and bookselling, so that affordable books can be produced which reflect local languages and culture.
What kind of books does Book Aid want? Because of the relatively high cost of getting the books to their destinations, it’s important that donated books are in good condition and exactly what they’re looking for. There are clear guidelines on the website about this, but reference books are much in demand. What's needed most at the moment is money to deal with the donated books in their warehouse. So the next time you clear out your shelves, remember, Book Aid needs those reference books!
And in the meantime, why not join the Reverse Book Club? If you can find just £5 a month, your support means that Book Aid can supply 48 books a year to places where books are in desperately short supply.