LIVE BLOG: Building Global Literacy Networks

Global Literacy – Bob Cheshire & Gwen Fischer

Yuganda in 1994 visited medical library - they had finest medical school in that part of the world. (Director of Kelvin Smith Lib. – best on Case campus) Bob told class he would send them some books – they all applauded – he has been back twice.

Do not have books in schools. Publish same books every year: childrens books – very little public in indigenous languages. 52 languages in Yaganda tribe. Childrens’s books in English or Swahilii. Frm 3rd grade on – everyone learns English.

Need strong networks when shipping books overseas

The problems in Africa are exactly like problems in Cleveland – find commonality in problems. Bob Worked with schools and catholic priests went to a number of schools – only had 4 boxes of books. Why is problem with literacy & books so difficult.

Books here are institutionalized
Had career day in K-6 at Case School. Talked to 2 hispanic girls – one said she didn’t read much – the other read all Harry Potter books. Then the 1st girls said she wanted to read it too and Bob offered to get her the Harry Potter books. Broought in book, she read first one and read the others in fast succession.

Looking for common networking, common problems, common solutions between US and Uganda. Learned more networking from Jesuit Prists at St. Ignatius than from anyone.

Sent 25,000 book – textbooks 12,000. If they go to Jesuit priest, the books get there. They are the intellectuals. Has helped Bob to do more for the children in Cleveland by sending books to Uganda. At Case school, Gray’s publishing showed Bob a book that was not selling very well – what’s so good about Cleveland, OH – a children’s book. Beautfilly illustrated. Shows all landmarks in Cleve. – only one child in the school actually saw those landmarks in person. Gave kids Bob’s collections – had an affect. Bob gets every book that comes out of Shaker Hts. Brecksville, Broadview Hts. He packs them up and sends to South Africa near Zimbabwe.

The Denton Program – Dept. of State, Defense & USAID – you would pack books and first shipment was 52 boxes of books – if you pay to get to closest air force base, then it goes over to Africa free of charge. The program stopped because of corruption in Africa.

Wayne Dudley, The books professor (sent millions of books to Africa) in Mass. Introduced by Gwen. The network is developing overseas.

The problem with publishing in Africa – dealing with beaucracy.

Barbara Byrd Bennett – 75,000 students, 20,000 teachers, 30,000 other employee. She made $270,000 per year. Then you are taking on the parents.

How do you gets kids to read?

Led groups of students from Hiram to Zimbabwe since 1994. Visited a program Girl Child Network – after school programs for girls started by a teacher who worried about girls dropping out, who are abused and parents not interested in their education. Now there are school girls clubs all over the country.

Gwen read in PD that there was a woman at Patrick Henry starting a girl’s club for the same reasons the women in Zimbabwe did. Managed to get a pen pal thing going. Letters sounded almost identical about what was going on in both countries. Again, the commonalities here and in Africa.

Spent time in Zimbabwe & Tanzania – problems are the same. Spend 3-1/2 weeks for each trip. Africa looks scary to Americans. Her ideal would be to have student exchanges. Would like to get students to come to Hiram and find out about education and maybe go to Tanzania.

Gwen collected 9,000 books at Hiram and sent to Dudley in Boston and combined with his – have to find a network so that books will get through customs and to the destination. The rotary club would store them and then contact the schools to pick up. The schools are comprised of a teacher, cement block bldg,. and a bunch of children. No desks, no books, no supplles.

Need a good network that has international presence that are committed to doing good. Constantly seeking people to represent you overseas. Need network so that books get to right people – not privateers who sell them at auction.

How do you build recognition and value in books to children in Africa. in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. How do we translate that idea in greater Cleveland. It works when the teacher hands the kids books. Hooking kids in Cleveland to know that kids in Africa would love to have books so that they would value them.

Satellite Country School in Uganda– kids in contact with students in schools Maryland. A great communication opportunity.

Bob gets several e-mails a day from Africa. Aids causes great problems. Lose parents and then they don’t go to school. Then they don’t learn to read.

Minister land, air & water interested in the books and education. Kids in Cleveland do not have access to all kinds of books (books that actually belong to them).

Kudzai idea - Set up internet cafes for blind kids during the day and open up to public in evening.

In 3rd world there is athirst for books – not in Cleveland.

Receive 3 free computers. Will go to schools and create computer labs but not allowed to hook up to network.

Bangalor India one of the great technological centers. Puts CA to shame. Set up kiosks with computers so kids could use them.

Bob has 60 – 70,000 books and 40,000 in flats. Lots of volunteers helping. Teams Learnig to Connect from Shaker Hts. Borders helps by giving equipment to store books. Also has suppies for Cleveland schools. Gives to teachers free. He met a teacher recently who visited him and said she knew nothing about him.

I-Open has brought awareness of people doing work like this and builds networks around this.

Have to pick your places carefully so that books will get there.

Getting container to Congo from S. Africa took 6 months. (4500). If you send to Uganda, 4300. Network becomes crucial to help books get over there without exhorbitant price. A kid in Uganda would “kill to get a book”. Be careful where you sent books.

If you want to assist developing countries, help girls.

Gramein Bank only lends to women. 95% payback.


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