During the summer of 2015, I went on a trip to Kisumu, Karateng, my mother’s home town. My mother’s sisters had started a family library and they wanted me to see what was going on in the area and how much work was put into making the library a success.
I remember not really wanting to go and not really liking the fact that my parents had sent me away without my liking for a whole week, but being there taught me a lot. I realized that I was spoilt!
There was no electricity in the house we were staying, it wasn’t entirely complete and there was no running hot water so you would have to carry a bucket of hot water from our neighbour and host’s house at night and have a cold shower in the morning. I wasn’t used to living with no power because back home, there was electricity meaning hot water and peace of mind. With electricity I could be up at night doing my homework and my only worry would be how sleepy I would be the next morning.
But that wasn’t the case for our hosts daughters, Tracy and Cecille. Every night they would get home from school and help out where they were needed then they would get on with their homework and by this time would already be dark. In school if I couldn’t complete an assignment, I would have morning before lessons begin, my break time and my lunch time to complete it before the teacher asks us to hand it in, but they didn’t have that sort of luxury, so they would sit in the living room using a paraffin lamp to finish their homework.
This experience made me realize how lucky I was and yet I took it for granted. After that I started working harder in everything I did. School work, homework, anything I did because I knew that somewhere in the world there was someone who was doing way worse off than me.
While at the library, I also read a lot of books because they were all around me in a surplus amount. When I was younger I would absolutely hate reading and I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting down with a book for as little as fifteen minutes just to read a chapter of a book, but while there, the one thing you could do if you were bored was read. If you couldn’t sleep at night you would pull out your flashlight and read – especially because I didn’t have a phone. If you were done with whatever it was you needed to do and were waiting for someone you wouldn’t sit and stare into the distance because you would have a mind gripping book right next to you.
I have learnt that reading can open your mind up to a whole new world that you never even knew existed and that’s what I love about the library. The library is available for children and adults and what’s the point if we don’t make use of it?
Visiting the project really opened my eyes to the importance of education. I now look forward to logging on to the Read Across Africa page to see a picture or two of the Karateng’ children reading. The photos always bring a smile to my face because with each book read, a mind is opened.