Stevenage Rotary in Hertfordshire and Barton-le-Clay Rotary in Bedfordshire are two of many Rotary clubs in the United Kingdom supporting ‘Just Be A Child’, also known as JBAC.
JBAC is a charity that partners with communities in Kenya and builds libraries for the local children and adults to help with their education.
Alex from Stevenage Rotary describes the project as quite simple, He said “you take an unwanted book from the UK and give it to a child in Kenya.
“From that, you create a library from the container in which you ship the books over in.”
Before the libraries could be built, playgrounds would be erected from locally sourced materials.
Creating playgrounds first has shown from past experience to help secure community commitment and ownership, and helps prepare the hard standing for the container to be placed on. The library then follows six months later.
Books don’t belong in landfil. They belong in the hands of children.”
The two Rotary clubs have been involved in the project for a few years now. Both clubs have applied for district grants in 2014 and 2019, collecting funding to help with the purchase of shipment and containers.
Many other Rotary clubs have also been able to find ways of supporting the charity other than through financial means.
Myles from Barton-le-Clay explains how his club has worked together with their local schools: “We have contacted schools in our area for spare books and collected them from them.
“This led to a fantastic volunteer day for the children at Arnold Academy, but also for our own Rotarians.”
Peter from Darlington explained what his club has done to help JBAC, saying: “We decided to put a shout out in the press in Darlington and started collecting books for JBAC about two years ago.”
“The feedback we get from the public, schools and colleges is pretty overwhelming and the activity itself very rewarding.”
Peter’s club has collected and packed 10,000 books in less than six months.
JBAC also helps with the shipping of books that have already been collected to Kenya as Jackie from Somer Valley Rotary has found out.
“Our Club wanted to ship books to the school we support in Watamu, Kenya for really quite a while, but it never seemed possible. Not until we found JBAC.
“They very kindly shipped, at a small cost, the thousands of books we had collected,” said Jackie.
Clubs that work with JBAC often send representatives to the various volunteer days at Dollimore & Christie in Hitchin who host the JBAC operation and sorting facility.
Just Be A Child has already built seven playgrounds and seven libraries and it hopes to build more in the years to come.”
The charity is supported by Rotary International clubs as well. The Golden San Ramon Rotary clubs from the US have participated financially by providing donations. The Literacy Rotary Action group (LITRAG) has also promoted JBAC in their magazine.
Rotary Clubs from all across Kenya benefit from JBAC’s work as well as contribute match-funding. Twelve Rotary Clubs received 1,000 books each for their own distribution and the cooperation has only just started. It is anticipated that over 10,000 books will be donated in the next five years.
JBAC has already built seven playgrounds and seven libraries and it hopes to build more in the years to come.
In order to achieve its mission, JBAC is seeking Rotary Clubs for its Ambassadors, representatives, recipients or just as a support.
To learn more about JBAC, visit their website or contact any of the clubs mentioned. If your club has a project or a school in Kenya and would like to ship something to them then email the charity’s founder Lenka.