Upon this day by Kelvin Gwuma

Chavakali is small but among the oldest towns in the western parts of Kenya, located in Vihiga County. The community is closely knit  and everyone literally knows everyone. Due to its strategic geographic location beautiful sunrises and sunsets grace our days, but when it rains it becomes muddy due to poor infrastructure development. This is where I was born and raised and I am honored to run the SAIDE Community Library which is the only community library.

As the coordinator of SAIDE community library I led the different initiatives to improve the profile of the Library, being situated in a largely urban setting but with a huge rural population the demography of the community varies in characteristics but a majority did not and still do not have a reading culture. This was the primary challenge that gave birth to my desire to increase and expand the reading spaces for school children. Apart from increasing the number of books and collaborating with different partners I also secured support from Worldreader in the form of E books. This consignment of E books transformed the Library capacity to hold reading materials and at the same time made it easier to move vast amount of resources in a simple and convenient way. Consequently I established a reading program dubbed the one-hour-reading program in partnership with local schools. Every day I go to local schools to read aloud to students with the E-readers. This is to enhance a reading culture in our local schools, the tech aspect of the E-readers excites readers and creates the desire for them to read more. I also lead my people in community service activities such as fundraising school fees for needy students, organizing community clean-up exercise and providing space at the library to respond to public health information. Existing barriers to digital reading include low investment by government ministries, agencies and departments, high internet costs, poor legislation around digital reading and learning and limited local content that can inspire and related to the prevailing circumstances of the Kenyan communities.

I told the story “Upon this day” in regard to my childhood struggle to access books. I loved books from a tender age but the inability to access them was a demoralizing factor. My childhood experiences taught me the most valuable lesson, whenever my mother earned some money she would always be faced with a difficult choice of either food or books and the former would carry the day. Receiving a book as a gift is very significant to me and to date every time, I receive a book as gift I always get excited.  A book is a powerful tool to pull many people from situations such as depression, solitude and anxiety and as such should be embraced, investing in books and wide range of reading materials can be equated to reforestation, and whereas the tree seedling will save the climate books will save the soul of humanity.

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