rosemary


A great gift for yourself or your favorite
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tank top Keep checking my newsletter and facebook page for a chance to win one of these bitchin' tank tops - but if you can't wait just send $15 plus $5 s&h (check or money order) to Chestnut Hill Books, Box 284, 1127 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT 06905. One size fits all.
chalula library project

- a community library in central Tanzania

THE BEGINNING

Many of you have heard me talk about the Chalula Community Library which my husband and I - and many generous friends - helped to found in central Tanzania. It hasn't been easy, but in another way, it hasn't been as hard as it might sound. Dollars go so far in Tanzania and we've had the help of lots of kind and generous people from the women's book group in Charlotte, North Carolina to the grade school teachers in New Jersey and Connecticut to head honchos at Barnes & Noble, Random House Children's and Viking Penguin. Here's the story from the beginning.


The Beginning
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
October 2007
December 2007
Summer 2008
Spring 2009
September 2009
November 2009
March 2010
Spring 2011
Winter 2012
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CHALULA LIBRARY - The Beginning

January 2007

In January 2006 while on a Habit for Humanity build, I had the good fortune to visit Chalula Primary School in Mvumi, Tanzania.

A hand-painted sign read Karibu – Welcome in Swahili. Further inside the school grounds another crudely painted sign read – If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Then we saw the children. Over 900 dressed in their school uniforms in the blazing sun waiting to welcome us with songs, dances, and ceremonial tree plantings. It was an experience that will stay with us the rest of our lives.

Most of the 923 students at Chalula Primary School speak three languages – Kigogo, their local language, Kiswahili (Swahili), and when they’re a little older, English. And they learn with only 18 teachers, no computers, no electricity, and astonishingly enough, few books, because they have no library.

Through the generous support of Professor Kate Parry, Kitengesa Community Library, and Professor Michael Kevane, founder of Friends of African Villages Libraries, we are working to change that. I urge you to visit their web sites to learn more about their exciting and important work. Information and progress reports on the Chalula Library Project can be found on this website.

I hope you’ll consider supporting the students of Chalula and residents of Mvumi by making a tax-deductible contribution to: FAVL-Chalula Library, PO Box 90533, San Jose, CA 95109

-- Rosemary

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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April 2007

The Chalula Library Project is moving full steam ahead. We now have building plans approved by the Tanzanian Department of Education, a realistic budget, a US fundraising committee, and a Tanzanian building committee.

And I'm thrilled to report that plans are in the works for our very first fundraising event, a cocktail party on May 3 hosted by our good friends Gilbert and Betsy Perlman. Hopefully some of our other Tanzanian pals will be there to share pictures, videos, and experiences. Check back for more progress reports, and as always, I hope you'll consider supporting The Chalula Library Project

Thank you!

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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May 2007

I'm happy to report that our May 3 fundraising cocktail party was a resounding success! Over 100 friends jammed Gilbert and Betsy Perlman's apartment to eat, drink, listen to music, and to learn more about The Chalula Primary School. We leave on June 5 for Dar es Salaam, then it's a 12 1/2 hour bus ride and drive to Mvumi to meet with our Tanzanian friends and break ground. Please check back soon for pictures of this exciting project, and feel free to email with any questions about The Chalula Project and how you might get involved.

Asante sana!

Rosemary and Bruce

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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June 2007

Bruce and I leave for Tanzania on June 5th, but the villagers of Mvumi have already started digging the foundation for the Chalula Primary School Library! All of the parents (and grandparents) of the students are happy to pitch in and get the work done - hopefully before the start of school in September. We'll keep you posted. Check back later in the month for more pix and updates on this exciting project.

Ro

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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July 2007

Bruce and I are back from our trip to Tanzania, and we're happy to report that the building of The Chalula Primary School Library is right on schedule!

After flying from NYC to Dubai, Dubai to Dar es Salaam, and then taking a 7 hour bus ride to Dodoma, we were met at the Scandinavia bus stop by our friends Joseph Biseko, and Henry Lyandalah, headmaster of The Chalula Primary School for the 90 minute drive to Mvumi. In Mvumi, we stayed at the Amani Mission, thanks to the generosity of the Reverend John Naumann. Winston, our master mason, had already gotten a terrific headstart on the foundation, and Henry and Joseph had ordered most of the cement that we'd need for the project.

While there we met with Member of Parliament, Dr John Malecela, and numerous representatives from the regional department of education. We also researched solar panels, which will enable the library to stay open extended hours for the students and members of the community who want to use the library in the evening in this part of the village where there is no electricity.

In a few days we were able to see walls going up. Check out our newest pictures, and come back frequently to see the library's progress.

Thanks for your continued interest and support,

Rosemary and Bruce

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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October 2007

We're gearing up for our second trip to Tanzania this year. Planning, fundraising and putting up a building in less than a year is nothing short of miraculous and our friends in Myumi are to be congratulated for all of their hard work. Headmaster Henry Lyandala, Project coordinator Joseph Biseko, and our master mason Winston have kept everything right on schedule. We are now in the process of putting together the book collection and with the help of Professor Parry and a few Tanzanian publishers, we hope to have books for the dedication ceremony in November.

Kwaheri!

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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December 2007

Hello friends and supporters of The Chalula Library Project. Our recent trip to Tanzania was intense and fruitful. Bruce and I left New York on a Saturday morning and landed in Dar Es Salaam, via Dubai, on Sunday late afternoon. Walter Bgoya, a Tanzanian publisher we’d ordered books from, was supposed to meet us @ the hotel but didn't show. We’d learn later that his malaria had come back and he was quite ill.

Next morning we took a 7 hour bus trip (semi-deluxe, meaning some of the windows opened) to Dodoma where Joseph Biseko (our coordinator) and Henry Lyandala, headmaster of Chalula Primary School met us at the bus station. We spent 2 nights in Dodoma, at the New Dodoma Hotel. While there we visited the Regional Library and met with the head librarian who volunteered to visit Chalula and to help train our librarian, once we found one.

Our library committee informed us that 84,000 Tanzanian shillings(about $75) was the minimum monthly wage for a librarian, and we agreed to fund that position for the next two years, after which the community would pay the salary themselves. We interviewed one applicant but didn’t feel he was qualified, so the search continued. We began to worry that we wouldn’t find someone in the few days we had left and made plans to put up notices at local agencies and the secretarial school, but we weren’t optimistic. The candidate we’d rejected had been our best prospect. The hardest part would be finding someone to move to the tiny village where the library is.

In the meantime, we shopped for solar panels and purchased a system which will be installed in the next two weeks. Solar panels will enable the students from the secondary school, a few miles away, to also use the library, so everyone in the community was very excited about this development.

The next day we rented a truck and driver and loaded up the books which had arrived from Walter's company, Mkuki Na Nyota, and from Fountain, a Ugandan publishing house. Then we drove about an hour and a half over an unpaved road to Mvumi Village. We spent that night with Father John Naumann, an Anglican priest from Australia who has founded Amani Farm, fairly close to Chalula Primary School.

The following day, we visited Chalula. When we saw the finished building with it's new coat of paint and louvered windows (with screens) we were bowled over. It was like a mirage. Inside were the tables and bookshelves we had approved. We couldn't wait to start putting books on the shelves, and the students and parents all helped, carrying books that some of you donated!

Then we met with the library committee - teachers, council members, local government officials, and the headmistress of the secondary school. We were very impressed by the quality of our committee and by the seriousness of purpose which they displayed. One of the committee members Aaron Chomola, a 63 year old council member with a passing resemblance to Sidney Poitier, took Bruce aside and asked to be considered for the librarian position. Aaron spent two years in the US working for Outward Bound in Colorado. He was a park official at Kilimanjaro and he speaks and writes English beautifully. We were delighted. We told him the committee would have to vote but we would recommend him for the job. He has wonderful presence, loves to read and has been looking for something worthwhile to do in the community.

The next day was the big ceremony, organized by my favorite teacher, Mr. Mando, with about 300 students dancing and singing, including a special song for Mama Rosemary. As another surprise for us, they unveiled a plaque acknowledging us and the “parents and friends in the US and FAVL.” After that, we shared a festive lunch and held a brief meeting. the committee voting unanimously to hire Aaron saying the appointment was "just perfect."

It could not have been a more auspicious beginning.

We are happy and proud to have been a part of this project, and all of you who have been kind enough to support us should feel that way too.

Happy holidays!

Rosemary and Bruce

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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Summer 2008

A number of important visitors will be visiting The Chalula Library this summer. Professor Kate Parry (Hunter College) is a board member of Friends Of African Village Libraries. She'll be making the trip from Uganda and will be staying at the same local mission where Bruce and I stayed last year. Thanks Father John! Professor Parry has started two libraries in Uganda and will be there to check progress and offer advice to Aaron Chomolla, Chalula's first year librarian.

Andrew Martric is a student at Pratt University that Bruce met while lecturing there last fall. Andrew is studying for his Master of Library Science degree and will be helping Aaron with operations as well as inventorying books and evaluating the library's collection. He will be staying with a local family near the Chalula library. Andrew and Kate's visits will overlap so they'll be able to compare notes and observations.

Our first six-month report from Aaron shows that we have had more than 5,000 visits. An astonishing number for a small village in central Tanzania! Although, for the most part, the library is used by the students at Chalula Primary School, Aaron writes that "we are seeing a surprisingly high number of women using the library as well." Yay! Aaron may be surprised but we are not, and we will be researching more and varied books to attract larger numbers of adults. In the past year we had some difficulties in getting book shipments from Kenya to Tanzania, but hopefully those issues have been resolved and we'll be able to grow the library's collection. Please remember your dollar still goes very far in Tanzania!

More news in September!
Kwaheri,
Rosemary

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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Spring 2009

A lot is happening at The Chalula Library! We continue to have thousands of visits from both children and adults and we understand that plans for the new water tank are finally underway!

In January, librarian Aaron Chomolla traveled to Uganda to attend the Community Libraries Association Workshop in Kampala led by Professor Kate Parry of FAVL, who has herself started numerous libraries in Uganda. Aaron also visited several village libraries in Uganda to see how they serve their communities. One of his goals will be to try to raise the profile of the library in the community using methods learned at the meeting.

In August, Bruce and I will return to Tanzania and join Professor Parry, Aaron and library coordinator Joseph Biseko for a two day library conference in Lushoto, Tanzania ( a twelve hour bus ride from Mvumi..) Next stop will be Dar es Salaam for a book buying trip to expand the library's collection. Our visit will coincide with the The 6th Pan-African Reading for All Conference and we hope to meet many experts who will help our Tanzanian friends to grow the library and its usefulness to the students and parents of the Mvumi community. And then it's off to Mvumi to visit headmaster Henry Lyandala and all of our friends in the village. This time we will be joined by two wonderful and energetic volunteers - Holly and Lauren who will spend three weeks volunteering in the library and staying as guests of the village.

Tanzania is still one of the poorest countries in the world where the average daily wage is only $2.00 a day when people can find work at all. However, this generation of Tanzanians is much better educated with a rising rate of literacy and that is why supporting the library is so important. We welcome any help that you can give.

Asante sana,
Rosemary and Bruce Harris

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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September 2009

It's been a long and eventful summer capped off in late August by a trip to Mvumi Makula to visit the Chalula Community Library. Bruce and I spent the first few days in Dar es Salaam meeting with Professor Kate Parry and Sarah Switzer and attending the Pan African Reading Conference. We met publishers and representatives from other NGOs and renewed acquaintances with the folks at Mkuki Na Nyota, a Tanzanian publisher. Think BEA only smaller.

Then Holly and Lauren, our two volunteers arrived. Fresh-faced and energetic they'd flown from Seattle to Dar and would spend three weeks in the village helping out at the library. The next morning the four of us boarded the luxury Scandinavian Bus to Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. I've never taken the non-luxury bus but this one has no bathroom and the windows don't open because somewhere there is supposed to be air-conditioning. I couldn't really tell. Every stop of the way, young men banged on the windows trying to sell us water or cashews. Halfway into the 8 hour ride there is an official pee break. I leave the facilities to your imagination, but the snack shop carried Red Bull so I was very happy. And I promised myself I'd buy a handwoven basket on the return trip. There's an unofficial rest stop where women sell fruits and vegetables while travelers rush off looking for the nearest large shrub.

We spent the next two days in Dodoma meeting new friends from the PEN Trust, handling library business, and buying water and provisions for our stay. Then we were ready for the last leg of the journey, a one hour drive on a dirt road to Mvumi Makula. This time we were joined by Ricky, another vol who was just finishing up a month in the village but welcomed the opportunity to go back for one last goodbye.

The Chalula Community library has been open for close to two years now. There have been ups and downs -including our librarian's serious bout with malaria, and sand-encrusted solar panels - but for the most part things are going well. The collection is growing, albeit slowly, and every day that we were in the village, dozens of children came to read and be read to by the older children and the volunteers.

Housing for us and the vols is a small mud brick building with three bedrooms and a common room for eating or socializing. The rooms are furnished with foam mattresses, mosquitos nets and whatever the volunteers bring. For my husband that was a flashlight and a stack of New Yorkers. For me it was a canister of Moist Wipes. Don't leave home without them.

The two suitcases of books and school supplies we brought were soon catalogued and added to the small collection as were two big boxes brought by our new friends Mungwe and Andrea, the founders of PEN Trust, The Poverty Eradication Network. www.pentrust.org Their help was invaluable on this trip and I am optimistic that this will be the start of a beautiful friendship! I spent half a day using clear plastic packing tape to rebind the ones that we'd left the last time we were there and I don't doubt that we will need to rebind them again the next time we visit!

Our peripatetic volunteers Holly and Lauren are off to Australia now, but I hope that they will post some of their recollections of their time in Mvumi in the weeks to come.

Kwaheri,
Rosemary and Bruce

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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November 2009

When volunteers Holly and Lauren met us in our hotel in Dar es Salaam, I confess I was a little apprehensive. They looked so young! And one of them had never even been out of the United States before. How would they handle the rustic experience of living in a Tanzanian village with few creature comforts like electricity and running water? How would they handle the strange customs and new food...to say nothing of the small children and chickens walking in and out of the modest building they'd be sleeping in? With flying colors.

As we watched Rosemary and Bruce slowly drive away that afternoon, Lauren and I had a mixture of feelings. Nervousness was a big one, as was the feeling of being outsiders left alone in a very foreign world. We had been so busy cataloguing books and cleaning in our first few days that we had not taken the time to properly realize that we were to live alone in a rural Tanzanian village for three weeks. But as we sat down on the library steps and finally took our eyes off of the distant dusty trail of the truck, we saw that we definitely weren't alone. The younger children of the village had gathered around us, the shier of them peering wide-eyed from around trees, masking grins with their hands and daring each other with nudges to approach the "Wazungu" (the Swahili word for "foreigners" and our Tanzanian moniker). Lauren and I laughed and decided to amuse them further. Lauren found a stick and began to draw squares on the ground for hopscotch. When she was satisfied, she motioned for them to watch (no problem there; they were gaping at this point) and hopped through the squares to demonstrate. They got the idea quickly and pretty soon were drawing their own squares and kicking up clouds of dust as they played. Though the game eventually descended into chaos, as all games do when they involve forty-some energetic children, the kids had decided that we were their fun new friends, and were our constant companions for the next three weeks.

And what a joy they were. Our most memorable moments always involved the children. They constantly surprised us, either by deciding that 7am was too late to sleep in on a Sunday and jumping in front of our windows calling for us to come out and play, or randomly surprising us with a chorus of 'Happy Birthday' in English one afternoon. We will never forget our conversations with the older girls about their lives and goals, seeing them laugh at our pitiful attempts to wash clothes then gently guide us, or when we taught them to use our cameras, which resulted in an hour-long fashion shoot. Every time a photo was taken, the girls collapsed into laughter. Their optimism and happiness was contagious. Lauren and I had never had so many faces to greet. On the five-minute walk to the library, there were no less than twenty calls of greeting to us from the schoolchildren, and many ran over to shake our hands or dance around singing. There seemed to be enthusiasm in everything they did.

Our greatest joy was seeing them at work in the library. The teachers (those wonderful, wonderful people) brought in large classes or students all enrobed in identical purple uniforms. It always amazed me that despite not having any modern utilities and the dustiness of the area, the uniforms were always ironed perfectly and very clean. The families that could send their children to school took great pride in it. The children were eager to learn and extremely bright. Lauren and I put on a variety of craft projects for them, and despite the large language gap between us, the children were so observant and clever that it didn't really matter. Most of our crafts involved learning the English equivalents for Swahili words and phrases. My favorite craft was helping them make their own Swahili-English phrase books. Our own phrase books were like gold to us, and we thought that the children might like their own versions. We made little books, then used our own guides to help them write down what they wanted to say. By the time we finished, there were choruses of "Good Morning" and "What is your name?" around the library.

Lauren and I were so grateful for our time in Chalula. It changed both our lives and we speak of it often with fondness, wondering what Mrs. Mohammed the teacher is doing, remembering our walks with Henry to dinner and the calls of greeting from the villagers as we passed. We hope that we did some lasting good to the library, and that we are as memorable to the kind and welcoming people of Chalula as they are to us.

Holly and Lauren

Kwaheri,
Rosemary and Bruce

Get Involved:
As always, contributions may be sent to:
Chalula Library - Friends of African Village Libraries
PO Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109

Book contributions (children's books, biographies, reference, classic fiction, romance preferred at this time) or pen pal requests may be sent directly to the library:
Chalula Community Library
Chalula Primary School
PO Box 993
Dodoma, Tanzania


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Read more recent updates from the Chalula Library.

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