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Help us build a new library in Kenya

There's a great project going on at the Lake Oswego Library for the month of August. (More than) 40 volunteers have joined with a local organization, Koins for Kenya, to help build a library that will serve 10,000 people.

Three years ago I was lucky enough to work in one of these villages. Many of the mothers and fathers long to read, and the children have never seen a picture book or photos of this world. The people we met were kind, respectful and truly treasure what they have. They have nothing to eat but a bowl of mush each day, yet they arrive at school eager to learn. Most have no shoes, but they walk miles to get to school.

They speak Daruma, Swahili, and are learning English as their third language. They are bright, hard working and disciplined. By the end of eighth grade they are learning analytical geometry and are preparing to take the national exam that will qualify them to go to secondary school and thus have a career.

What is near impossible to come by in rural Kenya is cash. With our help we can help this community build a regional library that will provide textbooks, resources for teachers, books for preschoolers, and offer literacy classes.

The framework to accomplish this is all in place. The plans for the library have all been drawn up and can be seen as part of the display at the library. Brent and Rinda Hayes, from Lake Oswego, are volunteer administrators of Koins for Kenya-Samburu and will oversee the project. They will be in Kenya for the months of September and May for this purpose. The local community in Kenya is eager to provide all the labor.

So all that's needed is more support from our community. $30,000 is needed to build a library that will last. This will include shelves, desks and chairs. All materials and eventually the books will be bought in Kenya to support their local economy and their curriculum.

Come see the display. Donate to a great cause! Since Koins for Kenya is all volunteer, not a penny of what you donate goes to anyone's salary.

These young people in Kenya are the bright hope of Africa. They deserve books for their curious minds. Help make it happen!

Shanon Edwards is a resident of Lake Oswego.