A group of volunteers from Pennsylvania State University Berks just returned from working in Nyeri, Kenya after conducting a bookmaking and publishing program. The group worked with the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre to help their students to make/write books and become authors. The project, generously funded and supported by the Beaver Community Service Endowment Fund and the University Office of Global Programs at Pennsylvania State University in Berks County, was a HUGE success!
“We were literally running 5 workshops per day for 5 days to give every child the opportunity (to make books) By night, I was working with the teacher and the Director of C.Y.E.C. to develop their first math textbook and workbook combination” said project leader Andrea Pfaff. She went on to say, “Working with I.S.A.B.T. on the RealeBooks project at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre in Nyeri, Kenya was eye-opening and inspiring. My students and I were impressed with the creativity of the children, but more so by their excitement to create their own storybook. The stories that were written ranged from a basic ABC book for those children who were still just learning to read and write, to folktales and fairy tales retold, to personal autobiographies. Some of the stories made us laugh, some made us cry, and some honestly inspired us to change the way we live our own lives. To hear about these children’s struggles and then to observe their resilience and strength left me profoundly speechless and amazed. Most importantly for our project’s sake, I was taken aback by the great extent to which these children value education. My observation is that a child finding a donor to fund their high school education is similar to an American winning the lottery; it is that life changing. Upon returning home, it is nearly impossible not to remind ourselves of how grateful we are to have loved ones, family and the opportunities we have been given in our lives and in our country. Education, in particular, is invaluable and, I believe, is the key to a brighter future. Programs such as this spread that hope throughout the world so that one day education may be accessible to all those who desire it; For this, our world may be a better place. I want to sincerely thank the International School of Art, Business and Technology for paving the way with this wonderful program and for unselfishly sharing the gift of education with the world. I also want to thank the Pennsylvania State University Office of Global Programs and the Beaver Community Service Endowment Fund of Penn State Berks for giving this opportunity not only to myself and my students, but to the children of the C.Y.E.C. who deserve it so much.”
All of the volunteers plan to return to Kenya and continue with the project. As project volunteer Kasie Lynch puts it, “I would definitely love to help the kids make more books... they have so much potential”. She later wrote to us, “I think that the book making project is great! I would have never imagined that some of the children would write stories like they did. The first day when we told them about the project, one student came up to me and asked if he could write a novel. I was shocked! ‘A novel, sure why not?’ I said we could show him how to use the software and he could keep on writing. Everything about the project was perfect. These students have never been given the opportunity to do something like this. For some, it was hard to get them to dive into their imagination to create a story, but once they did, they did not want to stop. The children are creative, smart, and ambitious. With a project like this, it will open the door to so many new experiences and opportunities." For more information on starting a book club in your community and exploring the power and potential of books, please contact us and visit http://isabt.org.
Special thanks to volunteers Andrea Pfaff, Kasie Lynch, Miriam Ellis, Mehari Ghebremicael, Owen Reitnauer, Nicole Messner, Meghann McGuire, Alice Holland, and Brittany Holland for working so hard and making such a meaningful impact in the lives of young children in Africa.
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