‘May I come in?’ asks a shy and quiet voice from the door as I try to put away all the books we used this afternoon. I look up with interest to see who it is and a thought runs through my head ‘this must be a stranger, because no one asks for a permission to enter anymore’.
I see a middle aged man hovering near the entrance unsure what he should do. ‘Please come in. Is it a book you are after?’ ‘No. Yes. Well no, not exactly.’ Now I am really intrigued. We sat down together and he, unsure of where to start, finally came to the point.
‘I am a teacher. I come from these parts but I teach near Migori (about 17 hours from Ukunda) now. I heard of your project from my niece and I very much like it. I came back to Ukunda just to speak to you.’ He smiles while he looks around. ‘I spoke to some children from this area and I noticed how much their English improved. How inquisitive they became too.’ He nervously moves on the seat as he speaks.
‘I want that for my children. So I came to ask you if you could build a library in Migori or near my school, so my children can learn to read better too.’ Now the main reason why he came is out he relaxes a bit. ‘I am sorry’ I respond with a sharp pang in my heart. ‘We can’t build a library for you. Not yet, as we just cannot build libraries that far from the port. It’s all about the money, you see? But we can send you some books the next time we build a library here.’ I respond ‘Next year’ I add and his face goes from utter disappointment to real excitement in seconds.
We agreed that when we come in July 2018 we will send a few boxes to Rama (the teacher) and also to Fred (near Meru) and to Kevin (in Kibera) and to Alice (in Kisumu) and to Nick (in Eldoret) as they all contacted us with the plea for books.
And I just can’t wait to be able to built Rama his own library sometimes very soon. And another for Alice or Nick…..