Wednesday, 26 February 2020

THE 100 BOOKS PROJECT TURNS FOUR



Wow.  Four Years, you guys!

When I first embarked on my mission to collect 100 books for a local school I didn’t think I’d still be here four years later.

Thanks to all of you we have now distributed over 4000 books to 8 different library projects in Indonesia and Tonga.  We have built a house for a teacher.  We have donated more than 500 copies of Ocean Warriors Plastic in Paradise to remote island communities and we have distributed 100 Bamboo toothbrushes + cups to a village school in West Papua.

Since starting the 100 BOOKS project in 2016 I have set myself a goal at the beginning of each year.  You may remember that the original goal was to collect 100 books for Salio Village, a small village in West Waigeo, Raja Ampat with very limited resources.  The mission was set into motion when I had a request from 2 dedicated teachers at the school who were struggling to teach literacy with nothing for the children to read.

Not long after reaching our goal and making our first book distribution I relocated to Labuan Bajo and intended to expand the project to include a library collection at one of the local schools there.  We discovered, however, that the teacher's accommodation was so dismal that teachers were moving through the village at a very rapid rate and the school was under threat of being closed. So we decided to build a house for a teacher.  Our goal for the second year of the project was to fund raise that project and we succeeded!  Once we had completed safe and secure housing for the teacher we expanded the project to include a library collection at that village school.

The third year of the project aligned with the publishing of a bilingual edition of Ocean Warriors Plastic in Paradise – a book about the problem of marine debris set in West Papua.  That year we fund raised to be able to donate copies of the book to village schools in remote Indonesia.  We set a target of $500 which would allow us to donate 100 copies of the book.  And we smashed it.

But this last year started off relatively slowly with no big plans or goals in mind.  We had contributed books to 7 library collections, built a house for a teacher and donated hundreds of copies of Ocean Warriors Plastic in Paradise – all projects that grew organically from listening to what the communities need.  As the year progressed I reminded myself of my main motto when embarking on work in foreign communities – Ask how you can help, and listen to the answer. 

After that, it became quite clear.  When asking teachers how I can best support them the answers are always the same – school uniforms, underwear, shoes for the students, books, pencils, toothbrushes…

Toothbrushes.

Collecting enough toothbrushes to be able to give one to each of the students at the two local schools (200 toothbrushes) seemed like an obtainable goal.  But more than that the project offered learning opportunities in personal hygiene and waste management!  We decided that we would collect bamboo toothbrushes and take the opportunity during distribution to open a discussion about items made from plastic that are not made to last forever.  We also distributed bamboo cups to keep the toothbrushes in and worked closely with the teachers who agreed to keep the cups in the classrooms and make tooth brushing a regular part of the students’ morning routine.  

This project was more of a collaboration than previous projects with lots of people working together to help make it happen.  Zero Waste Bali stores gave us a huge amount of support offering their customers the opportunity to purchase a toothbrush to donate to the project and then donated a toothbrush for every 2 brushes donated by their customers.  They also offered us a generous discount to be able to purchase the remaining required toothbrushes.  Little Pandanus donated 200 bamboo cups to the project so that one could be given to each student with their toothbrush.  And Atlas Pearls covered the logistics of getting the donations to West Papua, distribution, education and coordinating with the school teachers to manage the project.  It was such a team effort and the success can be seen all over the faces of the kids who were so thrilled to receive their bamboo brushes!

And so we enter year 5!  Since we have reached 4000 books in four years I will see if we can continue this trend and make it to 5000 books in this, the 5th year.  And I have a few ideas up my sleeve for a major project – a reading garden at Salio school, or writing a new book in collaboration with some student illustrations.  I will see how the year progresses and let you know what’s in store!

Thank you all so much for the ongoing support.  It means the world to me and to the communities we work with.

If you would like to talk about how you can help, please get in touch!  If you would like to make a donation you can do so HERE.

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