It’s five in the morning. I’m standing outside in the dark waiting for my taxi. He arrives a few minutes late, so we are taking corners at an alarming speed, but we do make it to the bus park safe and on time. It’s surprisingly cool at this time of day in Rwanda and everyone on the bus is bundled in scarves to keep warm. At six o’clock on the dot we take off for our ten hour bus journey to Kampala, Uganda.
This is my third trip to Uganda for Ready for Reading. On this trip I’ll be attending a Uganda Community Libraries Association (UgCLA) workshop just outside of Kampala in Kabubbu. UgCLA is a very exciting organization with over 40 member libraries in Uganda. Each year they hold at least one workshop for their members focusing on a specific topic, but also creating a venue for members to share ideas and best practices from their libraries.
My first day in Kampala is spent with Kate Parry and Grace Musoke from UgCLA visiting various bookstores and publishers throughout the city. The theme for the workshop will be “Reading with Children” so we have been tasked with purchasing sample children’s books to use in the workshop. One of our main concerns when selecting books is their cultural relevance. It is difficult for new readers, especially children, to become engaged if a book is too far removed from their world. To my delight, we discover many fantastic books from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Purchasing these books has the added bonus of supporting local writers and publishers.
The following day we make our way out to Kabubbu for the workshop. Over the course of the two day workshop, we share, practice and learn from each other’s experiences. It is very inspiring to hear about all the great initiatives and programs that are happening at the different libraries. We learn about an interesting project in Northern Uganda where intergenerational literacy learning is taking place. In another library, a group who first began meeting for literacy training is now working together on income generating activities as well. What I find the most striking and encouraging, is the enthusiasm of the librarians presenting their projects to the group and the enthusiasm that the group shows for their ideas. The workshop reinforces so much of what we hope to do in Rwinkwavu. A library can be so much more than a venue for storing books…