Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Plan

What, you may ask, is the actual plan?

Well, assuming that we are able to raise $2,000 before November 1st, 2012, we are going to be COMPLETELY re-vamping our school library.  The Library is in an old classroom, which is rather roomy, but still a small place for such a resource center.  In a long, rectangular room, the books are now strewn about in a bit of disarray, and our job is to whip it into shape.

We plan to build large bookcases that line 3 of the 4 walls.  The back wall, where we find the blackboard, will be left open, and desks/ chairs will be put there for students to use while they are reading and searching for answers.  In the center of the room, we plan to have a table for the librarian to use as the "circulation desk", and a large, double-sided bookcase for the (limited) supply of readers and small novels we have.

Once this plan is seen to fruition, the library will be so user friendly that our students are going to be amazed.  As of now, this plan has not been shared with students, but once we get further along in the process, they will be involved and they will be extremely excited.

The Headmaster of Groupe Scolaire Kiruli- Florien.  Measuring, scheming and hatching plans.

First Donation Received!

A BIG thank you to Rachael Smith, our first LIP donor (ohh.... that's gonna be fun). Let the games begin!

To celebrate, here's a photo of my school:

The building in the back center (light blue windows) houses the Library and the computer room (complete with 5 computers)

Friday, September 28, 2012

PayPal how-to

We're connected!  If you take a look at the upper right-hand side of the blog, you will see a DONATE button.  When you wish to make your donation, simply click the button and it will take you to PayPal, where you can easily donate without having a PayPal account.  Simply enter the amount you wish to donate, and they will take it from there!  This method of collecting donations seems quite easy, but if you have any questions or problems, please let me know! You can comment here or e-mail me at:

Donations can begin..... NOW! And we have until November 1st to find $2,000.  This is not an insurmountable task- let's see how quickly we can do it!!

With love from Rwanda,
Ally and co.

Our Current State of Affairs

Real-time photo of the library: Note how our books are literally exploding out of boxes, onto desks and benches.

Beginning of 2011- official library opening.  A lot has changed in a year and a half- we have more books, and more people frequent the library.

Call to arms!

Hello family, friends and colleagues!

When I look around me, in the village of Kiruli, Rwanda, and think about “need”, the instant flood of ideas is nearly overwhelming.  What couldn’t this village need?  Well, we have access to water; we have food and a good climate for agriculture.  We also have churches and other areas for people to be with one another, and the children have a school and teachers to teach them.  The basics seem to be in place.

Then I look closer at my school.  There are few computers, set up in an old classroom-turned-computer-lab.  We only have electricity about half the time.  The classrooms are sparse, but full of students.  Things could certainly be better.

One area in my school where I’ve been the leader over the past (nearly) two years is the library.  At the beginning of 2011, I took it upon myself to get all the books out of boxes and into use.  I got the ball rolling by creating an inventory list, checkout system and library use policy.  Now, I’m a very peripheral component of the library operation.  There is also a wonderful Librarian named Jimmy who, just this year, made the transition from teacher to librarian because our school administration understands how important libraries can be. 

The library has blossomed.  Now students are checking out books left and right, teachers are using more books in conjunction with their lessons, and the few storybooks we have are being devoured by curious new readers.

The problem is this: the books are getting dirty!  We currently have 5 cupboards that hold only a small percentage of the books.  The remaining books are on top of old desks and benches.  Yes, it’s working- but it could be so much better!  Here in Rwanda we have two dry seasons and two rainy seasons per year.  The Library is in an older classroom and it’s not exactly weatherproof.  During the dry season, dust blows in and blankets the books, and each rainy season gives way to new leaks in the ceiling that are hazardous to our paper friends. 

Our solution? Let’s build better storage! Jimmy and I hatched the following plan: If we build new shelves, all the books will have a safe home. We can be better organized and the library will become a more user-friendly locale.  This will help both the librarian and the students to better care for the books, and will keep them in circulation for longer.

In order to build new shelves, we need to raise money.  Each shelving unit is about $200, and we want to commission 8.  I would also like to go above and beyond the bare minimum and have extra money to provide some new books for the library. So, the target amount is $2,000.  The school has also pledged a donation of $170, so everyone will be contributing in order to make this project a success.

Here’s how can you help.  Share this information with your friends and family.  Anyone who considers reading to be an important part of their lives should understand the potential impact of an awesome and smoothly functioning library.  And having this library at a public school in a remote village makes an even greater impact than I am able to express.  This is the only place that children are able to access new information, and the students are really loving it!

After sharing with a friend or two, make a donation!  I know, things can get uncomfortable when it comes to money, but allow me to level with you here for a second.  I’m willing to bet that you have at least 10 dollars to spare.  And if I can find 200 people who can part with 10 dollars (that’s one dinner out to eat, or the price of your drink of choice for less than a week) we’re in business!  Of course, if you are able or willing to make a larger donation, it will be so very appreciated! 

In return, here’s what I’ll do for you.  If we raise enough money to complete our project, I will be sure that each of you gets a thank you letter from a student and a before and after photograph of the library. 

I am very excited to get this project underway!  Since we are working on a limited time frame, the deadline for donations is November 1st 2012.  I have set up a PayPal account specifically for this project, and I will be managing the funds.  I can assure you that every penny will go towards our Library Improvement Project! Thank you for reading, thank you for caring, and thank you for sharing this message. 

Questions? Comments? Send me an e-mail at