Roy Austin from South Carolina went on safari to East Africa to enjoy the wildlife and was concerned that his itinerary had too many cultural inclusions, such as visiting homes and schools.
The primary objective of Roy's five-week safari to five countries in East Africa was to see the animals in the wild while they are still in the wild. The itinerary also included cultural experiences, which he anticpated would not interest him. The animals were, as expected, fantastic. Unexpectedly, he also thoroughly enjoyed meeting the people and visiting their homes and schools. The African people he met were warm, friendly, smart, creative, and happy.
Roy visited the Amboseli Primary and Secondary School in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. In rural Kenya, the government does not build school buildings. You either build it yourself or raise the money to have it built. The government does, however, supply teachers and some school books and supplies.
This Amboseli school is located next to a Maasai tribe, who has changed its way of life so their children can be educated. The Maasai are nomadic herdsmen moving their sheep, goats, and cattle to greener locations. However, school buildings can’t move. Therefore, this tribe established a more permanent settlement next to the school so their children can attend.
This created a problem. The warriors now take the herds farther away to graze and may be gone 3 to 4 weeks, making both more vulnerable to predators. Education is that important to them! A teacher was asked by one of the other travellers in Roy's group if they had a library. She replied, “No, but we would love to have a library.” That stuck in Roy's mind. Thinking, “surely I could get books donated and shipped to the school,” Libraries For Kids was born.
Many people told him that it can’t be done, it’s too expensive to ship books, and they will disappear going through Customs. However, one of Roy's life philosophies is “Focus on the Objective, Not the Obstacle. Every worthwhile project will have problems and obstacles. If you focus on the problems, you will never start. Conversely, if you focus on the objective and solve the problems as they arise, most anything is possible."
In good news for the education of lots of African children, Libraries for Kids now donates books to rural schools in four East African countries.