September 8 is International Literacy Day and Rotarians from the Literacy in a Box Trust, which was set up and is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Roborough Plymouth, is heading to Zambia to distribute 72 Literacy Boxes to children in time for the start of their new term. As well as distributing the boxes, the Rotarians will visit schools and orphanages in Lusaka that have already received Literacy Boxes. They will then go on to Mfuwe, the area that received the first two Literacy Boxes ever sent to Zambia.
When Roborough Plymouth Rotarians originally became aware of the problem of poor literacy and lack of educational resources in Zambia, they contacted Operation Sunshine, a local charity already working in Zambia, to see how they could help. They agreed to send two boxes of educational materials on the charity’s next container to Zambia as a pilot to support schools. The joy and appreciation at receiving the supplies was evident and the Literacy in a Box Trust was formed in partnership with the Rotary Club of Roborough Plymouth.
In April 2013, the Rotary Club of Mfuwe was formed and the Roborough Rotarians were able to apply for a Matching Grant to help their local schools. A project was chosen to support two schools which were having new classrooms built for up to 1,000 pupils. Pens, pencils, paper and other materials were then sent in Literacy Boxes along with as many curriculum text books as finances would allow.
Another 23 Rotary clubs in the Devon and Cornwall area took part in the Matching Grant project pledging over £8,000. This was enhanced under the terms of the grant to £28,262, providing funding for the Literacy Boxes which are now awaiting distribution when the Rotarians arrive.
Rotarian Ian Parker, who is also Chairman of the Literacy in a Box Trust said: “Put simply, if you can’t read or write, it is virtually impossible to acquire the skills to overcome poverty and support your family, let alone progress in modern society. Therefore, improving levels of literacy has now become a key policy with Rotary and governments on a global basis, as it is seen as key to the development of their respective nations.”
So far Literacy in a Box has supplied 19 schools in Zambia with 367 boxes containing enough school supplies for over 8,000 children.