This summer, despite Covid quarantines and many closed borders, we still found opportunities to share books and supplies with our neighbors, both near and far. All our activities are ongoing, however current initiatives are in bold.
We were very grateful when author Reshma Sapre reached out to us and donated 82 cases of brand-new beautiful books based upon Indian myths and tales.
Here are two: In the Indian Night Sky and The Traveler, the Tiger and the Jackal. The illustrations are exquisite and the tales have universal appeal. New books are helpful as some of our recipients will only accept new books as part of their donation initiative.
After being named as official Kindess Crusaders, We received several cases of Kindness in the Neighborhood by Wendy Littlefield.
We brought cases of Reshma’s books to the Pequot Library Teacher’s Tent. This tent is open to teachers of the Bridgeport Public school system and provides teachers with the opportunity, each summer, to choose new books for their classroom.
We then traveled throughout Southern Vermont, bringing cases of both Reshma’s and Wendy’s books to medical centers that partner with Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read is a literacy initiative which partners with doctors to provide free books to children who lack access to books. As part of the medical visit, doctors will help parents understand the importance of reading to their child. Children and their parents can then choose a book from the Reach Out and Read supply. We will continue to provide Reach Out and Read with new books, when requested.
We built more BridgePi digital libraries, this time our BridgePi libraries can be powered either with electricity, or be solar powered. As you can see below, each BridgePi is connected to a battery pack that is wired to a solar panel, providing 6-8 hours of constant usage. WiFi enabled devices can download materials from up to 50 feet away. These devices have been essential during Covid as the schools in Uganda remain closed. Due to school closure, the Ugandan Ministry of Education provided digital editions of all school materials from Kindergarten through Grade 12.
We were able to add the Ugandan educational materials to the BridgePi chip, greatly enhancing the usefulness of the digital library. We sent 3 solar powered BridgePi digital libraries, each containing over 1,000 books, to Kyamaganda Development Organization (KCDO), Lwengo District, Uganda.
We received a grant of $1,000 that paid for shipping our devices, and allowed us to fund a high-quality projector, screen and blackout curtains for the KCDO library in Lwengo District, Uganda. We are now working to source and add O-level and A-level practice exams to the chip.
KCDO was able to attract several summer interns, some in the US and some in Europe. We were able to work with them via WhatsApp, sharing some fundraising and donation ideas. KCDO received monetary donations from some interns. Sydney, from California, received hundreds of donated cloth masks which she shipped to us. We wrapped our BridgePi devices in these masks and shipped them to KCDO.
Throughout the summer, we continued to organize our garage, pack and label books, and clothing. We also traveled to various schools to pick up additional books and science lab supplies. As soon as the borders open, we are ready to once again ship to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda!
With help from CT lawyer, Kelsie, we were able to assist KCDO with a legal agreement that transferred a 2-acre parcel of land from the Ugandan government to KCDO, for the purpose of building a medical center, library and playground complex. Additional funds contributed by JF and Zoë will allow KCDO to grade and fence the property, preparing it for construction (more funds still needed for the next phase!)
Together, we and KCDO, are working with Operational International and Project C.U.R.E to acquire needed medical supplies.
We are most grateful to Bob for funding food and school fees of the 35 KCDO orphans whom we have been supporting for the past few years. The funding provides education from September 2021-December 2022. We are working with Willy on a “learning partner” system that will pair each KCDO child with a US student, to encourage friendship and success.
John, from Von Steuben high school in Chicago, sent us 100 beautifully written and illustrated books from his French 2 students, representing their final projects. We are looking for French-speaking children who will enjoy these books.
We are excited to learn that Mark and Sheku Mansaray will be meeting with MIT students to discuss 3D printing of protheses for amputees residing in Sierra Leone. This is part of the learning center project Mark and Sheku initiated last year, and to which we were able to contribute. Being able to create protheses on location in Sierra Leone would be invaluable to the many victims of the Civil War. We hope to be able to help with this initiative.
And our last summer endeavor that we continue to work on: funding a cow for the KCDO orphans, so they can have milk. We’re almost there! Maybe we can send a cow by Christmas!
Contact us if you are interesting in assisting us as we move into fall. We hope to hear from you!