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Senegal volunteer's library appeal

Former Senegal volunteer Erin O'Quinn has been back in the US for over a year now, but she definitely hasn't forgotten the children who made such an impression on her during her Care & Community placement.

Erin O'Quinn during her Senegal placement last summer

Erin is planning a return trip to Senegal in December to visit her host family and old friends but, following a recent moment of inspiration, she now has a more ambitious plan too. As Erin says, "I found a French Picture dictionary around my house the other day, and it got me thinking about how few books I saw in Senegal my whole time there."

Books and reading materials are expensive and hard to come by in much of Africa, with many poor or illiterate parents unable to afford the sacrifices that would be required to buy books for their children. Some kindergartens in St Louis (Projects Abroad's base in Senegal) even keep the few books they do have safely out of sight in the principal's office, as they are thought to be too precious for the children to touch!

Erin is now planning to use her trip to establish a small library of books in French that can be accessed by local children and used by volunteers to promote reading in local schools and kindergartens. Doing a little research on Amazon.com, Erin says she was "really excited when I found that they have classics like Goodnight Moon, The Giving Tree and lots of others translated into French. They also have lots of used books in French, some as cheap as $.03!" She has now set up a wish-list at http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/3IKZ8258D0VUW, featuring a broad selection of books for different age groups. Anybody wishing to support her project can view the list and purchase a book to contribute. All the books that are bought will be shipped out to Senegal in October, and Erin will travel there herself in mid-December to collect them and set up a borrowing system.

Erin is a student at the University of North Carolina, from where we recruit several volunteers each summer for our Senegal programmes, and she intends to continue developing her initiative through them, sending out additional books each year.

"Many thanks in advance to all who support Erin in this worthwhile scheme!"

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