Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. –Vera Nazarian
Looking at her, you wouldn’t be able to tell ,much less imagine all the feathers she has on her cap of achievements. Voted this year’ KCA top 25 under 25, Wanja Kibuki, founder of Vitabu Vyetu book drive is a 22 year old who aims at becoming an agent of change in society one book, one child at a time. She is a full time student in USIU majoring in Diplomacy and a minor in Public Relations.
At some point, she got the opportunity to go to Ethiopia on a volunteer mission. During the course of her work, she was placed in an area that had me interacting closely with young school going children. The high level of illiteracy witnessed among the children tugged at her and she decided to do something about it.
Upon her return to the country, she made a trip to the Kibera slum in order to get a feel of the literacy situation in her native country. While doing her research, she came into contact with an organization- Turning Point Trust, an organization that seeks to relieve poverty and transform lives amongst vulnerable children and their families. Her interaction with the organization made her aware of the fact that the lack of sufficient school supplies was not just a problem that was unique to Ethiopia alone, but one whose roots permeated across the African region. But what now? After the problem has been identified, how do we solve it?
So, driven with only an unadulterated desire to restore dignity to the culture of reading, Vitabu Vyetu Book Drive was birthed, a testament, perhaps, to the fact that people, do indeed help the people.
Why the name Vitabu Vyetu?
We chose the name because we feel that it symbolizes ownership of one’s education. Additionally, it’s not fair for children to share text books or even exercise books in class. So to change this, and in the process nurture the love of reading among the young, easily impressionable school going children, the Vitabu Vyetu initiative has since been trying to start a library, wherever it can; if only to ensure each child enjoys the much ignore luxury of owning their own books and stationery. (Side Bar) A Book drive is a campaign set up with the sole purpose of collecting or purchasing either textbooks or exercise books for an institution of need. They are mainly to help them stock up on material for writing or setting up a library.
On Your Downtime…
I’m playing with my dog, I’m cooking and spending quality time with my loved ones and working for Young Leaders‐Kenya Girl Guides Association as a Projects Coordinator
How do you decide on the drive locations?
We do our research on areas that are largely afflicted with the lack of either reading or writing material (most times even both) and select our locations on the basis of the most deprived; though it is a little heartbreaking as I really wish that I could save them all, I’m happy to have eliminated one problem, but sad that these children have many other needs like food and clothing which I can’t meet.
What value would you say your project added?
We have been able to make accessible education facilities through the books we have been able to donate and the Library Cards we recently got for 2 whole schools for them to have membership at the KNLS Library at Buruburu.
I would say setting up the Laini Saba Community Library that is fully functional gave me so much joy to see a positive impact that will help propel the children to accessing facilities that would enrich their knowledge.
I work with a team of seven. It is always fulfilling seeing the look on a child’s face when they get to own a book for the first time.
On the future?
I envision our Organization reaching out to the hard‐stricken areas where they purely have no access to education and set up schools and libraries that will give them a bright hope for building a future. Our Mission is to go beyond the border and help set up Vitabu Vyetu in other countries to also ensure we can do the same work we will do at home for them. I believe that we want to make a significant impact that will ascertain the reduction of illiteracy.
I want to continue making reading fun and exciting for kids through: Reading clubs, Read Aloud Campaigns, Storytelling Sessions and Spelling Bees.
On challenges faced
The hardship of accessing some of the areas we would want to reach out becomes a major concern for us because we have seen these places on the media and know we can do something to help.
How do you get funding?
We receive donations through the campaigns we set up from friends, family and well‐wishers who always come through and they always tell a friend to tell a friend and through that we are able to sustain the campaigns we have set up
To take part in the project, one can reach the founders on:
• Facebook: Vitabu Vyetu
• Twitter: @VitabuVyetu
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org