Working with readers in the community: the SAIDE Community Library

Kelvin Gwuma is going to be presenting to the network next week about the wonderful work he does working with the local community served by the SAIDE community library. Ahead of his talk, here are some moving personal testimonials from users of the library, Eliud Otieno and Musanga Whitney. Both are now studying at university.



The Sabatia Initiative for Development is the best thing that has ever happened to our community. Since its inception, the local community has seen a vast improvement in many sectors not education alone.

The SAIDE Library is a gem to the local society.  In a rural setting with no libraries, the SAIDE Library has proved to be of great importance. The library has vast resources for learners of all types, ranging from kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, college, researchers and even book enthusiasts. The wide range of materials offers a lot of knowledge for the society’s future leaders who will make our community a better place. My gratitude for the library is immeasurable. I particularly remember the year I was a candidate for the National exams for primary school. The library came in clutch to help me with studying materials, revision programs and even tutors which helped me excel in my exams and become one of the top performers in the country; unusual from a rural setup.


Eliud at the library

Secondly, the library provides all of the educational materials a learner would ever want for such an affordable price. This way the needy learners don’t get disadvantaged in their pursuit for knowledge.  As for my experience, the vast knowledge I acquired from SAIDE library is way too valuable for the negligible price. This is why the library will be always a valuable treasure to the community.

Thirdly, and the most amazing thing about SAIDE Community Library is the introduction and incorporation of e-learning. As for the local community electricity is a problem let alone use of smartphones and computers, which made E-learning impossible. This E-learning was facilitated by the use of Amazon kindle devices that come with many virtual resources from the internet library available to learners. These E-readers have since encouraged a reading culture among the youth since the youth are fascinated by technology, me and my peers found this very enjoyable and hence better grasping of concepts. These E-readers also help save space of stacking up dozens and dozens of books because you can access as many books as you want from the kindle devices. This E-learning program also helps learners appreciate technology and its importance in our society.

The library has also helped engage the youth and keep them busy with constructive aim. Before the library was founded, many youth used to be very idle and this could easily trigger them into crime, drug abuse and other unconstructive activity. Whenever they are free the youth and other community members can always visit the library to learn about something they didn’t know before or read some science fiction or world geography, there is always a lot to do at this incredible library. The society has seen a much more improvement in this aspect.

Another way the library is shaping the community is by improving learners’ leadership skills. Yes, the library has moved a further step other than just providing reading materials. The library through its program of conducting inter-school debates and public speaking forums has help build learners’ language, confidence and leadership.  I love this project as it has impacted me very positively. Before, I was very shy and barely had any helpful public speaking skills. Through attending the debates I improved my fluency, confidence and communication skills. I improved a lot to the extent of becoming a regular award winner. This way SAIDE is fulfilling its dream of developing future leaders of the community.

Lastly, the library also conducts community service programs.  This includes cleaning the local area. On certain days the library management organizes for the youth to undertake cleaning activities in the local market. From picking litter to cleaning pavements, this a great way to help the community since the environment is getting conserved from pollution. This also is an enjoyable activity and keeps us, the youth, busy and engaged. The community members especially the elders are very grateful for these kind activities. The library has also organized a program to supply the girls from rural areas with sanitary pads, which are rare due to financial constraints. This is of great help to the girls since it helps improve their hygiene and relieves the needy families. The gratitude of the community to SAIDE is inexplicable.

With these great impacts there are also some challenges. It is understandable that the library needs financial support to keep these community helping programs alive and even reach to a wider network to help more people in need. Another challenge is that the E-learning materials might not be enough to serve the whole locality. It would be very great if well-wishers would help sustain and expand this project as it is of great importance to the community, I can attest.


Musanga Whitney’s Story 

When I joined high school I dreamt big, not only a dream but dreams to go places go to university to study great or rather tough considered courses.

Somewhere along the way I lost track of time and my identity. I didn’t pay much attention to my studies. Education didn’t look cool or of importance,  friends seemed better and overtime I realized I had let go my guard and my new normal became meaningless friendships, waste of time and disobedience. I let peer pressure win.

In form two third term, I performed dismally in the end year exam, this was a new low and very embarrassing moment of my life. Especially given the fact that I was a celebrity and a cheerleader in the school. ’How does it feel to be a loser?” this the most devastating part in a student’s life and unfortunately without proper counselling most students start to believe the new reality.

First forward, form three was here and I realized how tough it was to recover the lost time. I had form 1&2 to catch up and now here was  form 3 notes piling, more formulas more essays more terminologies and more so  a pre candidate.

I let go working hard because clearly, so I thought there was no way I could secure a slot in joining my dream university and pursuing my passion.

With the help of my teachers whom I am super grateful for, I realized there was time. What needed to be done was commitment and sacrifice.

During the April school break, I made a bold step. I approached my primary school mate (Maxine) a student at Sterehe Girls centre by then. I needed help to understand concepts in chemistry. She was happy to help and even asked me to join her on SAIDE library tours where we would find useful resources to use in our revision. SAIDE was fascinating given the fact they had both physical books and hundreds of e-books on a tiny device (E-readers) I fell in love with the space and the hospitality of the staff.

Thinking about it now I remember asking Maxine, “Can’t you just help me here at home?” she said “no, the library is well equipped with all the materials that I will need to help you revise” I didn’t cheer up on the plan because the library was located far and I had to use a Ksh. 100 each day on transport and that meant another expense. My mom was caring and supportive enough to help with the transport.

Musanga Whitney at the library

First time in SAIDE, still nervous and shy I sat next to Maxine. The room was full to capacity, it was amazing seeing students from all over Vihiga county discussing and finding solutions to assignments using the available resources. I was determined to fit in, in a few days I got acquainted and now I was part of the many students who were in quest for knowledge.

My mother promised to support me as long as the library was going to improve my performance. She was pleased by my report about the library and she encouraged me to borrow books and read from home too.

I now became a member of the library. When schools reopened, I realized I had become more organized and responsible in tackling my holiday assignment on time. I was feeling alive and productive once more.

Kelvin was instrumental in ensuring we follow the library guidelines which honestly shaped us to become ardent readers, his colleague Rono was our teacher all through the time we were at the library.

With baby steps I started to realize improvement in my performance especially in my weak areas. When the final exam came I was the happiest girl because one of my goals of joining the university was accomplished. I secured a chance in the university and sincerely appreciate the library’s support.

SAIDE is indeed a haven of hope and as the founder Ms Beatrice Lukalo has always said miracles are made of quiet moments of faithfulness just like a mustard seed in the bible. Through the books at the library I learnt a very important lesson in life that faith the size of a mustard seed produces mountain sized hope.

Thank you for a great vision SAIDE founders, thank Maxine Cheptoo for your support during my low point, thank you Trevor Kegode for helping me out, I improved my mathematics grades because of your help, Thank you Kelvin for believing in students no matter where they are from and thank you Rono for the coaching.

To SAIDE don’t stop shinning hope to the community and even in this corona virus crisis keep leading the way. Keep changing lives and connect people it’s the simplest form of love.


Interesting authors I have read in SAIDE include, John Green, Markud Zusca, Danielle Steel, SE.Hinton, Stephen Chebosky, James Patterson, Kristine Cashore among many more.


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