A library at Susu Village, Zambia, is a dream in progress for the African residents. Land has been purchased for the library through donations from Britton area residents.
Former Britton resident Lana (Jandahl) Lynn has a dream of a sign similar to this being placed at the site of a new library at Susu Village, Zambia.
Elizabeth’s Library International has helped to renovate a classroom at the Susu Village School in Zambia, Africa.
Residents in the Susu Village area walk miles to gain access to books and in this photo two girls are enjoying sharing a book.
This is the future site of the Susu Village Public Library. Donations from Britton area residents made the purchase of the land possible.
Locals Funding Zambian Dream
Earlier this year former Britton resident Lana (Jandahl) Lynn, chairman of the Board of Elizabeth’s Library International (ELI), issued a challenge to her hometown.
That challenge was for the Britton area to raise funds to help build a community library in Susu Village, Zambia. The cost of the library would be about $20,000, and so far area residents have contributed $4,500 to the cause.
Jandahl sent The Journal an update last week of the progress at Susu Village. ELI began its work there three years ago. Jandahl’s comments follow.
Susu Village School has been very busy these last few months after the delivery of the new heavy duty bicycle and specially designed book carrier to be used in its mobile library program, which the teachers started in late August.
ELI began working in Susu Village in 2015 by sending several hundred books to the tworoom community school. The school itself did not have any books and only a few shelves, but the books were a treasure and were displayed around the perimeter of the school rooms and kept in the small teacher’s office.
Within months, the word was out that books were available at Susu and adults and children walked miles to read or borrow a book. The Susu teachers decided that a better strategy to make the books available was to start a mobile library program. So, the teachers borrowed an old bike from someone in the community, packed a cardboard box with books, and traveled up to 15 miles one way to visit very remote schools.
This small program was so successful, that ELI raised funds to purchase a heavy duty bicycle and book carrier that could hold 100 pounds of books. There are now 15 schools that have asked to be included in the program—most without books of any kind or with books that are worn and torn and out of date.
The mobile library now visits five schools on a regular schedule, which is a challenge for the Susu teachers with their own teaching responsibilities. In the future, the mobile library program will need a designated bike rider or two in order to visit all the schools asking to be included.
The other challenge was that the school lacked the needed space and furniture to continue serving as a classroom, library space, and staging area for the mobile library program. So, one classroom was renovated. Ceiling and walls were plastered; walls painted; and chairs, tables, and bookcases were purchased for the classroom and small office. There was even a designated child’s reading and play space.
For the first time in their lives, village children have access to a few basic educational toys and games, and school absenteeism is decreasing! A new supply of toys and puzzles are on the way. It’s difficult for us to imagine that these children had never seen or put a puzzle together. The teachers reported that their joy and sense of accomplishment was exciting to see.
Teachers in the schools served by the mobile library program are reporting better academic scores. Their children’s vocabulary is increasing, and reading and spelling scores are improving. The children have even initiated little competitions.
In Susu Village, the adults asked the teachers to start adult literacy classes, and three weeks ago, the first class of 17 men and women met in the newly renovated classroom.
ELI will also renovate the other classroom, which will provide a little more space to maintain and develop these programs, but a separate library building is needed soon. The future library needs to be big enough to hold a minimum inventory of 20,000 books, a children’s reading space, and one or two classrooms for literacy classes and student tutoring.
As the only library for miles, the Susu teachers are planning to offer study and research opportunities for older students, so they will be prepared for the national promotion exams. The library will be constructed to include a future solar powered computer lab. Their dream is that the library campus will include a real playground for their children.
The school teachers and community leaders have identified the best location for a community library. The property is about 500 meters from the school and is available for a very low price.
The owner is convinced that it is time to build as he has been carefully observing the incredible changes in Susu after the new well was drilled earlier this year and life returned to Susu. No one is ill because of dirty water and everyone wants to work and develop the community. The three gardens are producing great crops of vegetables, children have returned to school, the temporary library is open, and adults are learning to read and write.
Thanks to generous Britton community donors, ELI has received $ 4,500. This is sufficient funding to purchase the land and complete all required legal land title transfers and government registrations. The teachers will also buy additional bookcases and small tables, which can be used in the school now and moved to the library when it opens.
It is difficult for any of us to imagine a place where adults and especially school children do not have access to books or toys of any kind. The rapid growth of the Susu project surprises even the ELI Board, and there is no doubt that a library at Susu will become a major hub for learning—impacting and changing lives now and into the future.
Lynn would love for some residents from her hometown to journey to Zambia with her.
“Come with me to visit Susu—you will be impressed with this little community, who prays and hopes for a better future for their children. They know that education and learning is key to leaving a life time of poverty.”
Anyone wishing to contribute to the project may send donations to Elizabeth’s Library, PO Box 51335, Pacific Grove, CA 93950. Attach a note that the money should go to the Susu Village Library Project.