Wale Wale Kenya has this year brought to reality one of its biggest investments in the organization this far – the making of the Wale Wale Library! Starting from January 2018, our library and study space has been an effective and fun way of expanding our academic follow up program. Historically in the Kenyan society, the reading culture has always been limited to academic books and this is unfortunate because the knowledge, wisdom and entertainment found in stories, both local and from around the world is pure food for the mind. For many youth in Kibera also, a calm and quiet space to study is a rarity, as their homes are crowded and library facilities are scarce. Both parents and teachers struggle to meet the needs of their children and students, but often lack sufficient resources. Creating this library has been our way of meeting the literacy needs and entertainment desires of our members therefore providing a missing piece in the lives of young people in Kibera: have succeeded in creating a place that provides a safe and quiet learning environment, with the presence of supportive and capable adults.
We visualize functioning as a bridge between the youth and their families and schools, as both schools and parents struggle to meet their needs. It is important to understand that schools in Kibera work hard, with very stretched budgets, to meet the need of a large number of students. The aim is therefore to work alongside the local community, and to complement rather than substitute the schools’ efforts. By doing this, we hope to lay the foundation for change from the inside, and to offer alternatives when it comes to learning and children’s development. In order to achieve this vision, this is our goals in practical terms: 1) to create an accessible and qualitative study facility within the Wale premises, with books for all school years and all subjects, as well as fiction and nonfiction literature 2) to offer our members well-organized home work support sessions with educated teachers, 3) to establish adequate academic follow up on each student’s educational progress, and lastly 4) to establish fruitful cooperation and communication with schools and families.
Our new house is considerably larger than Wale Wale’s old building. The top floor holds a library, quiet rooms for reading and studying, and rooms for group activities and discussions such as book clubs. Teachers in different subject areas regularly visit the library to offer support to the students involved in our program. Staff, interns and volunteers assist in basic homework assistance for our younger students, under the guidance of teachers and local staff.
The core of Wale Wale’s work has always been to provide tools with which young people can build the life and future they desire. The library project is an attempt to make these tools accessible to a larger number of youths, and a chance to keep improving young lives in the Kibera community.