Rural Kenyans struggle for access to books. Villages have no local library. Most students share textbooks with several others. The Kilgoris Project changed this when we rolled out Kindles at Ntimigom Primary School in June 2011. We partnered with Worldreader, to bring e-readers and thousands of books to our primary students and teachers.
It is difficult to explain the impact of the Kindles. It’s more than the sum of the devices and number of books. Take nine year old Namunyak. This typical Maasai girl lives with her family in rural Kenya. Every day before school she fetches water, milks the cow and prepares breakfast for the family. When the chores are done and everyone has eaten, she walks three miles through the bush to school.
At first glance, her classroom looks like thousands of others. Desks, blackboard, posters—check.
But what makes her classroom special is the wealth of books, the library inside each Kindle. When her classmates first saw the device, they guessed it was a giant phone. They followed along as the teacher taught them how to navigate the menu. They each selected a title. Then came the aha moment. There were real books inside the Kindle!
Now Namunyak gets to read to her heart’s content. Worldreader has worked with local Kenyan publishers so the books on Namunyak’s Kindle contain subjects and themes that matter to her. The English language titles help her learn her country’s second national language. Kiswahili titles allow her to learn without having to struggle with foreign words.
A little girl who had never picked up a storybook before now has a library in her hands. She holds magic books that will teach her to read, expand her mind, and give let her dream of becoming whatever she chooses to be.