Weston teacher sends books to Africa
August 27, 2008 · Updated 4:24 PM
A local teacher is a heroine in eastern Africa today.
Alison Douglas of Weston High School helped to send numerous boxes of surplus textbooks to Kenya where they will be put to use. Along with Swahili, English is the primary language spoken by young people in Kenya, hence the books will be of great use to children who otherwise would not have none.
Many of the students helped by this undertaking are the orphaned children of parents who have died from AIDS. Douglas became involved through friend Marit Krueger who signed on for a three-year term as a teacher in Kenya. In addition to supplying textbooks, building a school and a library, Krueger taught the students methods of farming so that they can live in a more modern community.
Last summer during her break, Krueger met with Douglas to discuss the need for materials. Douglas arranged for a supply drive at Weston High School which raised more than 75 pounds of school supplies. The package went by boat to Kenya and took five months to arrive.
But arrive it did, and ever since the link between Northwestern Washington and central Kenya has grown. The latest shipment included 25-30 large boxes filled with gently used textbooks no longer needed in the Arlington School District.
Even our old books from the 1970s are useful, said Douglas. Because we are adopting new reading curriculum a lot of books were available. Beautiful, hard-back books that cater to each grade level, along with teachers guides, tests and assignments were sitting in surplus.
Arlington teachers got first dibs on those leftover books, but the remainder were claimed by Douglas and shipped to Krueger.
Over the course of a month, I kept going back and carrying them in my car several boxes of books at a time. I only have so much room in the car.
The Karunga School Public Library officially opened March 6 with a gathering of teachers, students, parents and school board community members. Each child present was allowed to check out his/her first book.
Arlington School District should take pride in their part of the operation. More books are yet to arrive, due to the slow process of transport. While Douglas focuses on sending as many books as possible, Krueger is training the Kenyan staff to catalogue the books and continue the school program even after she returns to the United States.
School board President Kay Durkin congratulated Douglas saying, What a great way to share our wealth with someone. Allisons dedication and perseverance in sending our surplus books will have an impact on many people for years to come.