From Canada with goodies for schools

Saturday April 25 2015

The library was built at a cost of Sh10 million

The library was built at a cost of Sh10 million by Rita and Charles Field-Marsham (in the foreground) Foundation from Canada. PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID MUCHUI
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You can see excitement written all over their faces as they grasp and read storybooks at their new state-of-the-art library.

These are pupils of Lewa Primary School in Buuri sub-county in Meru County. The clean, neatly-arranged and well-stocked room, with an online library and an interactive smart board is the talk of the school located within the Lewa Conservancy.

The library is a dream come true for Ms Rita Field-Marsham, who, inspired by a true story of a Somali refugee girl in Kenya, who read books to become a law lecturer at the prestigious Harvard University, decided to set up a library for Lewa primary pupils.

In fact, this is what stirred the passion to avail modern libraries to children in Kenya, not just at Lewa. It was in 2007 when Ms Field-Marsham, a lawyer, realised how powerful books can be in transforming lives, even to the most marginalised Kenyans. In her own words, “I discovered that opening a book can open the world to a child.

DONATING BOOKS

Were it not for books, the Somali girl could not have reached that far,” she said. Ms Field-Marsham is the Chief Executive Officer of Rita and Charles Field-Marsham Foundation. She started off her passion by donating books to schools in Lamu and Kibera slums.

As she recounts, her initiative has paid off with pupils who have benefitted from her generosity recording improvement in languages, self-esteem and academic performance in national exams. In 2013, she founded Knowledge Empowering Youth (KEY) to scale up her mission to deliver state-of-the-art, custom-made libraries across the country.

“We believe in the transformative power of language, reading and a well-rounded education. KEY’s mission is to drive meaningful change in Africa’s vibrant communities by providing their educational systems with fully functioning libraries to ensure that children have the knowledge they need to shape and transform their own destinies,” she states.

Since then, Ms Field-Marsham, who is also the KEY CEO, says the organisation has also established libraries with books to teach communities about the environment. She noted that more than 80 percent of schools in Kenya lack library facilities.

“We provide books to enhance language proficiency. This will lead to better grades.