Sibongile Magwaza, speaker on March 1, teaches in South Africa
 
Sibongile Magwaza, speaker on March 1, teaches in South Africa and this year is working toward a MA in African languages at the UW-Madison. She offered to be our South African ambassador for the Book Project. She has visited the distribution center and knows, at first hand, how important books are to students, the schools and their libraries. For South Africa, literacy is a luxury. Lack of funds for schools keeps children from learning to read, which then blocks them from further schooling and even from work. Few children read for pleasure, have books at home or hear bedtime stories. They are hungry to read and happy to get access to books at their schools.

Pictures of the distribution center in Johannesburg, where volunteers arrange books by subject and grade, convinced MBR members that the books we pack do arrive. Many volunteers work there to organize and distribute books. We saw pictures of schools, many newly built, but empty. Then there were views of books arriving, filling shelves, and in the hands of uniformed, smiling school kids.

Book Project Ambassador Sibongile will go back in May. She will spread the word of the books center to more distant areas. One way will be to ask the teachers she trains to go out and spread the word. They will encourage rural teachers to get a truck and drive to Johannesburg to get books for their own schools and children.

Along with Rotary clubs, the Development Bank of S. Africa will become a partner bringing $65 million in 2010 to "Bury Me in Books." We in Wisconsin and our Rotary friends in Houston will keep on sending containers of books to Durban, S. Africa, knowing they really help schools and kids.