The inspiration for the charity founder, Lenka, was during her trip to Kenya in November 2012. While in Kenya facing some of her own demons she was touched by the kindness and happiness of children that had next to nothing yet were willing to share whatever they did have.
However, she was saddened by how little opportunity those children had to be just that, children. The place was so densely built up and poor, leaving no space or money for any play facilities, and their schools so under resourced that no child she came across held, never mind owned, a book. They had no favourite stories and experienced no joy in losing themselves in a good book.
Upon returning to the UK, Lenka invested her entire inheritance and set up Just be a Child in February 2013.
Lenka believes that Kenya is a good country to work in for a number of reasons: “Working in Kenya is easy. The official language is English, so our books come in handy. The closeness to the areas we work in of Kenya’s biggest port, Mombasa, makes shipment a little bit smoother. There is limited regulation or other official obstacles to overcome. But more importantly, the children are so hungry to learn and the community so stuck in their ways that without a little bit of external intervention they will unlikely find a different way. Books can help them. I am sure of it.”
Before the first library was set-up, Lenka’s vision was tested by supplying 10 children with books for 6 months and seeing the positive impact it had for these children. The impact of the first library was also assessed after it had been in place for 12 months, and the effect was remarkable, see Impact on Education.
Lenka’s background is very relevant to the charity she has set-up. She is a PhD qualified Cultural Anthropologist and Behaviour Change specialist who has worked in over 20 countries for organisations large and small on understanding cultural differences, overcoming cultural biases, and designing projects that are deliverable, measurable and that offer tangible outcomes.