Literary Volunteerism :: Books for Africa

books for africa logo

books for africa logo A couple of times a year, my team at work volunteers with a different not-for-profit around Atlanta. Last month, we spent a morning with Books for Africa (BFA) – an amazing organization that does just what it says – sends books to Africa. And, since this is a blog for people who love books, I wanted to share a literary volunteer opportunity with you!

Americans throw away 320 million books a year. For 30 years, Books for Africa has worked to redirect this waste into the eagerly awaiting hands of children, teens and adults on the other side of the globe.

books for africa warehouse

Their first box, delivered to Uganda in 1988, went to 12 year old boys who, due to being born into and under political and social oppression, had likely never seen a child hold a book. According to their website, “we believe that education is the great equalizer in the world, and books are at the foundation of a strong educational system.”

Sadly, what BFA calls “a book famine” is the stark reality for too many people.

“Empty library shelves are a constant reminder of Africa’s desperate need for printed materials. If we are to see the day when African school children are to have the books they need to learn the skills necessary to provide for themselves and others, Books For Africa must continue to send millions of books.” – BFA website

BFA partners with school libraries, orphanages, adult literacy programs, and community resource centers to supply books of all types to children and adults.

As volunteers, we sorted books that had been donated – weeding out books that were damaged or inappropriate (don’t need cook books or latest diet fad!) – and then organizing them by age group and subject. Some of our volunteers also started packing boxes. There’s a number of ways to support Books for Africa, and they have two locations – Atlanta and St. Paul. There is complete information on their website.

Now serving nearly 60 countries, Books for Africa delivers 3-4 million books a year, promoting literacy, instilling critical thinking skills and fostering empathy and democracy in ways only a love for reading can do.


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