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Project information

Community Libraries in Kenya

Books inspire, they evoke dreams, they show us that we can achieve whatever we aspire to. But not everyone has books and we work with Kenyan communities that share our passion of reading. With them we build community run, free, libraries that contain books from UK donors.

September 2017 - August 2018

Charity information: Just be a Child

Just be a Child logo
  • Need


    Kenya lacks fun and easy to read books. The existing few libraries contain very few books and are typically located in hard-to-get-to places. Schools have no books either and as such literacy is low. A Kenyan child of 12 years old reads as well as an 8 year UK child. 99% of the children we deal with never seen or read a book until they are introduced to our library.

    Education, whilst free in principle, is still expensive for many parents and their children miss out. We try to bridge the gap.


    The library, a converted container and free for all, provides books for children of all ages, gives the local community librarians purpose and responsibility, acts as a centre for other activities bringing the community together and allowing individuals to help the rest of the community improve their reading, writing and other transferrable skills. We train librarians in library operations, train community leaders in teaching skills and ensure books are looked after and more importantly read.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Collect 10,000 books and purchase a 40ft container.


    » Contact schools, clubs, organisations and businesses and request book donations. Pack and catalogue all donations ready for shipment.
    » Raise £2,000 for the purchase of a certified 40ft container. Raise further £3,000 to cover all shipping related costs.

    What success will look like

    Our book collection is ongoing and we regularly publish our progress on our FB, twitter and website.
    Without the purchase of a container our libraries cannot become a reality.

    Aim 2

    Selecting new community partner and building a playground


    » Observing Kenyan communities that expressed interest in partnering up with JBAC. Monitor their activities and assess their leadership.
    » Oversee the community initialling a small playground. Monitor their maintenance and general engagement with the project.

    What success will look like

    Reports on our engagement with new communities are produced, selection criteria completed and photographs taken. Playground is built under much publicity and its use is monitored.

    Aim 3

    Deliver and convert the shipping container


    » After 12 months of observation and partnership with the new community the shipping container is delivered.
    » The container is converted into a library by local volunteers: windows are cut; it is painted inside and out; bookshelves built; and books organised.
    » Librarians are trained and various other activities such as arts and crafts are introduced. All necessary documentation is prepared.
    » Library is opened and first members enrolled. Everyone is encouraged to become a member and is free to read books at our library.

    What success will look like

    Photographs, newsletter articles, FB updates are produced. The attendance of volunteers is measured and monitored. Training figures are produced and the number of members recorded.

    Aim 4

    Donate excess books and toys


    » The books that are not used at the new library are donated to: schools; orphanages; hospitals; police stations; NGOs; and other projects.
    » Each existing and established library is given new stock to replenish books and toys.
    » Approximately 20 schools in the vicinity of the new library are entered into 100 books exchange programme for reading and renewing by the school.

    What success will look like

    Emails, notes and text messages from schemes we donate books are received and publicised. Pictures and progress reports are produced.

    Aim 5

    Continuous support of our existing libraries


    » We monitor the performance and work with all of our libraries since their establishment. We also introduce new and additional activities (sport, dance

    What success will look like

    Attendance figures are compiled. Qualitative and quantitative reports produced. School records and exam results are monitored. Our wider impact is measured.

  • Impact


    Increase in literacy: exam results improved.
    Improvement in English speaking and reading: conversations and reading sessions with members.
    Strengthen relationship with reading and books: the number of members; the frequency of attendance; and the level of engagement in other activities.
    Greater appreciation of education: the number of children returning to school; the number of parents prioritising their children's education.
    Increase in writing skills and ability to tell a story: competitions.


    Money will not be raised to ship the container - alternative solutions are already considered involving temporary structure.
    Books may be stolen or damaged - work with the local community has already been undertaken and so far the community proved responsible and willing to maintain other facilities we have provided.
    Too many children will be using the library - the librarians will work on creating schedule and special event calendar.


    All donors will be encouraged to follow us on Facebook. They will receive regular updates in the form of emails and newsletters. They will be provided with statistical evidence of the library's impact on the wider community. They will be encouraged to engage in a two-way conversation and visit Kenya

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £10,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £2,000 Container Purchasing of a certified shipping container in a relatively good condition.
      £3,000 Shipping Certification (CoC) and fumigation, shipping cost, Kenyan forward's cost.
      £1,000 Kenyan Import Tax Very unpredictable and varied figure. JBAC already has a reputation and is supported by officials.
      £1,000 Metal Work Windows and security bars, labour and raw material.
      £1,000 Conversion Paint, paintbrushes and wood for shelving
      £500 Refreshments Refreshments and opening day party to celebrate the achievement and thank the volunteers
      £500 Training Paperwork, material and transport to training
      £1,000 Playground Raw material, labour, transport, cement, paint and paintbrushes.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Rotary £1,000 Guaranteed
    Local Business £1,000 Guaranteed
    Trust £2,000 Conditional
  • Background


    JBAC is based in Ukunda, South Coast of Kenya. A home to over 70,000 people from all geographical areas of Kenya. The levels of unemployment have risen to 87% in the year of 2016 and to 98% in the same year among 18-25 year olds. The level of education and the subsequent school results are below the national average. Ukunda is geographically very spread out and contains some hard to reach places. The infrastructure is relatively developed but services are kept central. Commuting is difficult.


    Children and adults from the most deprived areas of Ukunda.
    70% of our members are children, out of which 45% do not attend school, 9% are at pre-school age, and 12% are at college level.
    School children who use our library for lessons and teachers that expand their horizon. School children have a space to revise and study.
    Teachers learn new ways of engaging with their pupils and have the space to prepare for lessons.
    Community members use the library as a motivation and start up businesses.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Our Chair of Trustees is an expert in developing and delivering community projects. As an Anthropologist she has a unique way of identifying with our partners and creating projects that change their established understanding and approaches.
    We work with the members of the local community and utilise their knowledge to ensure that we work with communities that will work as hard as we do on the project.
    We spent time in Kenya and get to know our partners and work with them on our projects.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Lenka McAlinden

    Chair of Trustees, Founder and Project Developer. Lenka is the link between UK and Kenya.

    Juma Mwakina

    Project Coordinator Juma supports existing libraries and finds new partners. He produces updates and reports and monitors activities.

    Ann Capes

    Volunteer Ann works with our libraries and organises arts and crafts activities, reading classes and community teacher training.

    Jim Meadows

    Fundraiser Volunteer Jim oversees our fundraising strategy and helps with strategic planning and website maintenance.

The Story of our First Library


Every £100 will get us 68 nautical miles closer

This is the only library we have. The nearest one is in Mombasa, 60km away. We are extremely fortunate.