Building a mobile library in Tanzania will probably be a challenging task for Valentina Acava Mmaka - just ONE of my many and fabulous Facebook friends! And for those of you who are not Facebook members, all I can say is – and as I’ve said before – shame on you! Facebook folks are truly Everyday People (like you and me) and some, like Valentina, are changing the world in good ways. So today’s profile is devoted to Valentina,
who e-mailed me with her latest initiative.
Here’s her story…
ON HER [adorable] CHILDREN, Florin Mwanaiki, Aisha Mwanaanna, and Shali Mwanalulu, who are helping Valentina on her journey.
My daughters are 9, 8 and 7 years old and they are at the right age to easily adapt to new situations and to capture the intense emotions of the new experiences they will face. It is the first time we are moving into a big step like this. Also, we already know that the step may not be only one since I’m on a waiting list for two other destinations we may achieve during the next year. It will be a sabbatical year for all of us to allow us to make our long-term choice.
I’d like for my children who grew up without TV, Internet, and other sorts of "modern" facilities to know the world outside! I’d like for them to experience how many ways of living out there; how many different ways of thinking, eating, dressing, housing, playing, and praying. Confrontation and sharing are going to be the main leit motiv of their new life. Living in Europe, I feel there is a very urgent need to allow them to see that there is another way of being a child - living a childhood – maybe much more intense and simple than what society here expects from them.
In the evening they sit on the family bed, listening to the same story they’ve heard every day since they were born; just as their African brothers and sisters use to do in small villages. They like to build their own toys, play with them and know the happiness and satisfaction they get from shops. They have time for doing "nothing" instead of being involved in one or two sport activities and two or three different workshops. I mean they still have time for themselves to enjoy thinking, looking at the ceiling and dreaming; while families here usu sally stress their children asking them to produce results of being the best tennis player - or the best piano player - or the best dancer etc. They have a strong feeling about their being half African and half European, and I would like for them to empower their own identity through these new experiences.
The mission is to provide Tanzania Libraries dedicated (to start) to primary schools children and teachers. The idea is to promote literacy among those who are disadvantaged. The project aims to bring books to children who have none, serving schools, orphanages and street children’s organization especially in remote areas. A Mobile Library will suit different needs to reach rural remote areas, but also providing single schools of their own library is an important step.
We all know that books are the basic tools of education, yet millions of children across Africa have never owned a book nor have access to books. Information literacy, the development of which is accepted as the central mission of school librarians, is a necessary prerequisite for successful participation in the global information society. There is already evidence that teachers are struggling to implement the new methods – owing to gaps in their training, lack of support, and shortages of resources. Since only a tiny minority of Tanzanian schools have qualified school librarians (indeed less than a third have any sort of library), the successful development of information literacy depends on classroom teachers.
The Project’s name is Kabiliana which in kiswahili language means “confront each other”. The project was created by author Valentina Acava Mmaka together with the non profit multicultural association Soggetto Nomade based and registered in Italy which has among its collaborators migrant artists from different countries. The Project actually is a never ending one, we’ll start providing Tanzania of books and the we’ll continue in other countries such as South Africa and India.
The logo was kindly designed by Illustrator Stefania Pravato who is a dear friend and also my illustrator. It’s a huge Baobab tree holding a baby symbolizing life, new generations. The branches of the tree are black and white waving hands symbolizing the sense of unity and share in growing up all together as different as we are, the new life’s generation in the spirit of harmony and peace.
WHAT THE PROJECT NEEDS
- primary school book texts (in English)
- books in English (illustrated, novels, poetry)
- volunteers (teachers librarian ready to spend a few weeks a year sharing their experience and training teachers.)
- school stuff (pencils, pens, rubbers, cartoon, glue)
- news of foundation or donors who would like to collaborate at the project
- book titles (illustrated, primary school children novels and rhymes)
The site: http://kabiliana.blogspot.com
I’m a journalist and a writer who was raised in South Africa during the apartheid regime. I started working as a freelance journalist collaborating with different Italian Magazines reporting from different African Countries. After my studies in sociology I moved to East Africa where I lived for several years. For nine years I work as an intercultural mediator in Italian Schools from nursery to secondary school). As a writer and intercultural facilitator, I enjoy meeting students, I visit schools, libraries and associations. My presentations include interactive sessions with a bio of the author and her African life experience, reading from my novels and different activities to stimulate student writing. I also run creative workshops on building toys with recycled material, painting a story tale with the African tenture technique. With my long experience in African countries, I’m deeply committed in multicultural issues and my visits are mainly inspired by discussing on themes such as identity, diversity, self consciousness.
My other activities: I run writing workshops for adults and for children from primary and secondary school students. I also run different creative workshops on a multicultural basis inspired by African cultural traditions. I have a long experience working with immigrant women and refugees in social theater programmes.
I’m a writer and write for children and for adults. I write drama (some staged in Europe and Africa), novels, poems and children’s novels that focus on representing the African continent.ì from an insight point of view.
Since my life was signed by living in Africa, I ‘ve always been involved in volunteer Projects - working mainly with children and migrants (refugees, exiled). We all have something positive to share, feelings, experiences, ideas, missions… this is one of them!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Valentina. And readers, Valentina really needs your help! If you can donate books to help build libraries in Tanzania, please e-mail me. firstname.lastname@example.org
A project like this one not only promotes literacy, but builds bridges.