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Earlier this year, EdPowerment’s U.S. and Tanzanian staff began to talk about starting a library at the Kilimahewa Educational Center.  Reading is not a pastime, an activity, or even a thought for most of the youth and adults in the villages surrounding the Center.

First, there is virtually no access to any reading materials.  There are no newspaper stands, bookstores… and no disposable shillings.  Second, this is an insular society with so little exposure – and therefore so little curiosity – about the outside world. And third, reading is tough – it requires language skills and it requires light.  Where there is no electricity, there is no light in the evening for reading.  For all these reasons, opening a library is a game changer. 
Kilimahewa’s teens can now read stories, not just texts.  Their imaginations can be engaged as their language skills [we have purchased books in both Kiswahili and English] grow.  They can explore topics that interest them and learn about how people live in other environments.  Adults can learn more about methods to improve agricultural and livestock-raising practices, their legal rights, and simply basic knowledge they never encountered.  The possibilities are endless.

Still, it’s not so simple.  First, education has to take place.  So last Friday, Kilimahewa’s library was opened to the neighborhood in an official ceremony attended by village officials. Our Director, Grace Lyimo, explained the concept and process of borrowing a book!  AND returning it – on time and in good condition.  Staff explained the types of books that could be “checked out” and the types of books that are “reference” to be read at the center.  Each week, newspapers will be available.  Slowly, we will develop the library’s offerings. 

What a day for Kilimahewa, for EdPowerment, and for the young people we serve.