Publishing Books in Kiswahili for The Foundation for Tomorrow ~ Tanzania
WaterBridge Outreach team member and author Gail Tsukiyama conceived and heads up our Writers for WaterBridge Outreach program: a group of writers united in their belief that funding books, clean water, and sanitation projects in areas of need is a vital resource in continuing efforts to promote literacy, education and development. Thanks to the generosity of these writers, and the speaking events hosted by the Kearney Area Community Foundation, we have begun an important new Writers for WaterBridge Outreach Book Project, publishing books in the native language of communities where there are limited teaching and learning resources, and where any access to books is especially difficult. "As writers who have long been inspired by words on a page," Gail comments, "this project allows us to give back the gifts we've been given."
The first of these Writers for WaterBridge book projects was the production of 8000 booklets in Kiswahili, the lingua franca of East Africa, working in close collaboration with Melissa Queyquep of The Foundation for Tomorrow (TFFT) in Arusha, Tanzania. It has proven to be a wonderful collaboration. The teachers donated their time to write the texts that tell stories drawn from day-to-day life in Tanzania, and a local illustrator produced the drawings. The books were distributed just at the time when the Tanzanian government declared that, in order to improve literacy, teaching, reading, and writing in grades 1 through 3 should be in Kiswahili only. The timing was fortunate!
It is also a perfect fit to have the Writers for WaterBridge involved in such projects, especially where there are no libraries in primary schools, or even in most government secondary schools. A book becomes all the more precious when it’s shared between 10 or more students. Additionally, in situations where the teacher has only one copy of a textbook and the children have to be taught by a "chalk and talk” method - where teachers write the notes on the board for the students to copy – the value of actually making books available to the children themselves is strikingly evident. WaterBridge Outreach aspires to continue its association with The Foundation for Tomorrow in its work to improve the quality of education in Tanzanian schools.