Libraries donate stock to set up community library in Malawi

An innovative partnership between Edinburgh Libraries and APSTAR has seen over fifty boxes of withdrawn library stock donated to establish the first community library in the Mzimba District of Malawi.

Today (Monday 22 July) Cllr Norma Austin Hart, Vice-Convener of Culture & Sport, and Tamara Nyirenda from North Edinburgh charity APSTAR packed up the final boxes to be shipped out this week.

Councillor Norma Austin Hart, the city’s Vice-Convener of Culture and Sport, said: “We were delighted to be approached by APSTAR about providing books to help establish the first community library in the Mzimba District. Our libraries service has been only too happy to help this worthwhile cause. The joy of reading and the benefits it can bring are universal and is something that unites people from all over the world.”

Tamara Nyirenda, from APSTAR, said: “For the past 7 years I’ve gone to Malawi every year to volunteer in various Community Based Organisations. It is very frustrating to try to gather information on any subject as there is no community or public library in Mzimba. There is one reliable internet cafe but people queue an hour before the cafe opens.

“In April this year a local man asked members of the community to donate books for him to start a library at Mzimba Boma. He collected only 25 books in total. He made his readers leave the books behind and each person was allowed one hour.

“When I phoned Mzimba District Council Commissioner and told him about the 52 boxes of books that I got for the community library from the City of Edinburgh Council, he asked me several times if I was telling him the truth. I think the news did not sink in at that time.

“I’d like to thank Edinburgh Libraries for their generosity and for collecting the books and dropping off them here.”

APSTAR is a charitable organisation which was formed in 2004 after seeing so much suffering amongst the elderly and other vulnerable members of the community in Mzimba District extreme poverty, illness, hunger, malnutrition were prevalent in this section of the community.

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