Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

01 January 2008

Volunteering as a Librarian in Africa

A few weeks ago I received a voice mail from Nancy Westcott (former UH Manoa Law Librarian) who wondered if any of our students would be interested in volunteering to assist with library development in Eritrea and other parts of Africa with a group called the The One Tribe Foundation

She later wrote that:
One Tribe was founded by Dr. Paul Comstock as a nonprofit organization "that leads the people, particularly the women and children of developing countries to health education, social services, financial stability through education and micro-credit loans, and ultimately, sustainability and independence." At the present time, there is a working relationship with the Minister of Health and other partners in the African country of Eritrea. The teams are working presently in the capital of Asmara.

Apparently, the One Tribe book project "has 60,000 library and text books that will be shipped to Eritrea, and a system is being established for a continuous program. The books will be inventoried, sorted and distributed to various schools in Asmara. The project is at the very beginning, so One Tribe is recruiting any interested volunteers with library experience. The plan is to have two MLS librarians or one librarian and a library paraprofessional."

I'll be honest and admit that one initial reaction was that Eritrea recently had a few major border conflicts since independence... but Nancy said it is calm now. My other thought was recalling the envy and respect I had for some teachers who had done Peace Corps work in LDCs during the optimistic period of JFK and early LBJ ("My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."). That seemed like a very different generation when I grew up. In my case I knew it wasn't an option since I could not afford to defray Student Loans and the like. There were even times when it seemed as if Reagan would cut the Peace Corps altogether.

In any case, I am happy to post this here in case any of you can afford to consider this. Nancy explained that the Foundation might be able to help with airfare if a student / graduate would be able to spend some considerable time there.

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