On-campus book drive helps Africa-based children’s charity

On-campus book drive helps Africa-based children's charity

ReAnne Rogers

Naomi Carrington, a Books for Africa volunteer, visited South Africa in 2009. Photos courtesy of Naomi Carrington
Naomi Carrington, a Books for Africa volunteer, visited South Africa in 2009.
Photos courtesy of Naomi Carrington

A CSUN graduate student is making a difference in Africa without having to leave the San Fernando Valley through an organization called Books for Africa, to donate books to schools in Africa that are lacking the supplies for students to effectively learn.

English graduate student and teaching associate, Naomi Carrington, 27, went to Africa in 2009 with a group of 13 people, not knowing what she was getting herself into.

“I went to South Africa for the first time and spent time in eastern states working with a group on various things like reaching out into the community, helping refurbish schools, making meals for entire communities, and teaching some how to grow their own gardens. I came back and felt like I needed to do more for them,” Carrington said.

She will be returning to Africa soon, as she was recently awarded a Fulbright grant to teach in Africa for nine months.

Carrington was the president of the international English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, last year. Through this organization she was able to make connections with “Books for Africa.”

According to www.booksforafrica.org, they collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to students of all ages in Africa. Their goal: to end the book famine in Africa.

Books for Africa provides shipping labels and boxes for books, so all the partnering organization is left to do is collect as many books as possible, package them, and have them sent back to Africa.

“They will take novels, fiction and nonfiction, math books, monographs… Think of all of the course books you have that you weren’t able to sell for a good price at the bookstore and you just hung onto,” Arnold said. “This is the perfect place to bring those type of books, and it’ll get them out of your hair. We all know that we have those books that we just need to let go of.”

The Africa-based organization partners with various organizations, such as Sigma Tau Delta in this case, to get them to hold book drives where the books will be sent directly back to Africa.

“It’s a way that people can contribute back to their community without giving time that they don’t have,” said Kashia Arnold, 31, history graduate student and volunteer for Books For Africa.

When Carrington went to Africa, she said she saw how difficult it was to teach the students. When the students got books, they were not allowed to take them home, and 10 to 20 students had to share the same book.

This semester, Carrington has had the help of a new volunteer, Susana Marcelo, 26, graduate student in English and teaching associate.

“If I want to read a book, there are many outlets easily accessible to me: the CSUN library, public library, book stores, online retailers or, if I want it within minutes, iBooks and Kindle,” Marcelo said. “I feel privileged to have access to any book in an instant. Not everyone has access to the books they need, much less want.”

Last year, the book drive resulted in 200 pounds of books to send back to Africa. Carrington hopes to double the amount at the end of this year’s book drive.

“I didn’t set a goal for us. That’s the beauty of this drive,” Carrington said. “Everyone does what they can. Everyone does their part, and even if it’s a small part, it has a positive impact on the organization.”

The book drive started on Monday and will continue throughout the entire semester.

Carrington will teach in Africa for nine months as part of a Fulbright grant. On her last Africa trip, she saw that as many as 20 students had to share the same book.
Carrington will teach in Africa for nine months as part of a Fulbright grant. On her last Africa trip, she saw that as many as 20 students had to share the same book.