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books across the country - Interview with Rotarian Temba Banda
July 05, 2011
Inside/Out with Temba Banda
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Banda is the Vice President of the Harare Distribution Committee,
which distributes books to schools and tertiary institutions in
northern Zimbabwe for Book Aid International. Book Aid International
is dedicated to increasing access to books and other reading materials
to support literacy education and development across Sub-Saharan
you tell me a little bit about Book Aid International and their
work in Zimbabwe?
Book Aid International was formed by Lady Ranfurly, the wife of
the fourth Earl of Knox who was stationed in the Bahamas in the
fifties. While she was there she was moved by the plight of the
people and through her friends in the UK she started sourcing books
that people didn't need or want. Here in Zimbabwe, what was
then known as Ranfurly Library Services started bringing in books
in the sixties. Even at the height of the liberation war we still
received books. In 1994 Ranfurly Library Services rebranded and
became Book Aid International.
did you get involved with Book Aid International?
Sometime in 2007, I was reading the South African Sunday times.
I read a story about how Doris
Lessing had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Along
with the certificate and shiny medal she also received ten million
Swedish Krona, which at that time was equivalent to 1.3 million
US dollars. In her wisdom she pledged the entire prize to the provision
of books for secondary schools in Zimbabwe. She was very much in
touch with the situation on the ground, the dearth of reading material
and the flight of teachers. That was her way of giving back to the
country in which she grew up. I figured, as a Rotarian, it was a
worthy cause, and I wanted to do my part and took up the challenge.
My brother lost the paper
that had the original story so I had to trawl through the Internet,
and thanks to Google I got a hold of Harper Collins who referred
me to Book Aid International. I eventually met with the president
of the Harare Distribution committee, Jasper Maenzanise. Guess what,
these guys were oblivious that such a donation had been made. At
the time there had been a lot of power outages and Yeukai Chimuka,
who was then Vice President and the communications person, had a
huge backlog of emails. After that meeting I began to volunteer
my time with Book Aid. With time I became the rotary liaison for
the Harare Distribution Committee.
schools are you involved with?
All schools that are in need of textbook and novel support. We don't
invite Trust schools, they tend to be better off. We are looking
at council schools and government primary and secondary schools,
vocational colleges, teacher training and nurse training institutions
polytechnics. Once in a while we also get non-governmental organisations
especially those that are involved in advocacy with livelihoods
programmes or HIV/AIDS awareness. We also have a good working relationship
with Zimbabwe Cricket. We are in the process of setting up a reference
centre or Centre of Excellence where their coaches and all the people
involved in their outreach programmes can use those books. As we
speak we have a small consignment that is due to be handed over.
are the challenges you face in your work and what is the most rewarding
part of it for you?
For starters we don't have a budget, we are all volunteers,
and the University of Zimbabwe, kindly gives us our warehousing
space. It means I have to do a lot in my spare time. Sometimes the
containers arrive at very odd hours. We have a Rotaract Club here
at the UZ,
and I've gotten a lot of help from the Rotary Clubs of Harare
west and Harare central. What make the work rewarding is the impact
that we've made. We give a lot of books to schools of nursing
and they have openly admitted that thanks to our books their pass
rates have improved tremendously. For example Gutu Mission School
of Nursing, before they received a donation of books from us, the
lecturer would travel all the way to Harare to photocopy books for
use in her lectures. Now, thanks to this programme, she has a wide
array of books covering a broad number of subjects. With many nursing
schools and the poor allocation of funds towards educating health
professionals, most of their books are antiquated, so clinical management
of fairly new diseases are not adequately covered. I think, especially
in the health sector, that's where you can measure the impact
that these books have had.
is the relationship between Rotary and Book Aid?
The two are interlinked. Rotary does a lot of literacy and education
programmes; in fact it is one of the three key priority areas for
Rotary. The good thing is that since the Harare Distribution Committee
doesn't have a budget and the Rotarians have the means of
taking the books to institutions, we can work together at grassroots
level and identify the areas that need help. For example the Rotary
Club of Harare CBD will be transporting books to a number of training
institutions in Chipinge. Ordinarily it would be a logistical challenge
to expect these schools to send a representative to select books
and take them back. I think it's a very smart partnership.
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