Advocate for African Library Project presents to club on its fifth anniversary

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FARMINGTON — Farmington’s Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club hosted Sharon Allen of the African Library Project on Thursday as the local children’s service group collects books and funds to establish a school library in Malawi.

Allen is a Los Alamos resident and retired teacher who has been involved in the African Library Project for several years. The California-based nonprofit coordinates book drives in the U.S. and partners with schools and communities in Africa to establish small libraries in rural areas.

Allen gave a presentation on the organization’s work and effect during a club luncheon on Thursday at Porter’s Restaurant and Steakhouse in Farmington.

The local group has partnered with regional student groups and organizations to collect the 1,000 children’s books and $500 necessary to establish a library through the program, according to Jill McQueary, a Farmington resident and the lieutenant governor for Southwest District of Kiwanis International.

The group is collecting “gently-used” children’s books with reading levels spanning from pre-K through 8th grade, Allen said.

The local campaign began in early March to establish a library at St. Edmond Learning Center in Malawi, McQueary said.

Key clubs from Aztec and Farmington high schools have contributed to the effort, and Kirtland Elementary School gave a sizable donation on Thursday morning as the school reviewed and reorganized its library, McQueary said. Several individuals throughout the Four Corners community have also contributed books and services, such as storage and moving, to the cause.

The Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club has applied for Kiwanis grants to raise the funds to build a library, McQueary said, but if approved, funding won’t come through until mid-summer.

The process to begin a library is a lengthy process, Allen said. Shipping the books between continents takes months, let alone the process for the books to clear customs and be delivered to the actual sites.

Allen said a group of Los Alamos volunteers collected enough books and funds to send a shipment to Eddie Memorial Primary School on Rusinga Island in Kenya’s Lake Victoria in December, and she will travel to the school in June to help provide library training to local teachers.

The Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club also celebrated the group’s fifth anniversary at Thursday’s luncheon. D’Ann Waters is past president for the group, which holds elections this month. She said the group was officially established on May 5, 2013.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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