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We Know What You Did Last Summer Fest 🔥

The sun was shining once again when we threw our Third Annual Summer Fest at KulturLabor in Neukölln. This is the celebration we look forward to all year, since it brings together all the people that have supported us since the beginning, as well as introducing new faces to Lilipad’s mission.

The event kicked off mid-afternoon with Lilipad resident DJs, DJ Nice Man and DJ Girlfriend warming up the early punters while the food sellers set out their stalls. People began trickling in, Pfeffi began flowing and before you knew it the party really kicked off with Äggi Blau brought her tasteful, driving selections to the floor. Next up, 11 Unicorns brought the house down with their live tribal set before Lilipad’s favourite drag queen, DJ Wah ChIna, performed her inimitable live show to the rapt attention of the crowd. Proceedings closed with Summer Fest regulars Wedding DJs and a crowd of Lilipad’s nearest and dearest still dancing the day away.

DJ Nice Man aka Manel, Lilipad Board Member
DJ Girlfriend aka Paul, Lilipad Board Member
Äggi Blu
DJ Wah China or the best librarian of Neukölln
11 Unicorns

As ever, we’re deeply indebted to all the DJs, the cooks, the helpers, the sellers and everyone that came to make it our biggest Summerfest ever. Over €2600 was raised in aid of Lilipad’s projects, and an extra €996 was raised by our Silent Auction. The funds from the Silent Auction were specifically meant to help Little Stars Pre-Primary School (Kyabirwa, Uganda) get a new latrine/toilet system after theirs got seriously damaged by heavy floods a few months ago (this is where we opened our 5th library in March 2019).

Silent Auction Stand

Lilipad’s Summer Fest is a special event for us, not only because our friends all come together to help and support the project, but because there’s a unique vibe in the air every single year. It’s an event that brings people together to do the simple things we enjoy: eat, dance, chat and drink cheap but delicious drinks 🙂

Mini Tattoos by the talented Orsi

It’s also the year’s major event on the Lilipad calendar (closely followed by Fundraver!), and our most successful in terms of raised funds. For that, once again, we want to thank everyone that helps every year, and all our friends and all the newcomers that came to make 2019 our best year yet!

Can’t wait to see you at our next event 😉

Lilipad Chapter #5 – Manel’s Diary in Uganda

Day 1 – Monday

Heading out of Entebbe’s International Airport, I am greeted by Moses and Isaac, the first people I am to meet in Uganda. Despite the 3 hours drive from the village, and my flight being delayed by another hour, their smiles broke through my tiredness to welcome me.

Driving through a waking-up Kampala, we reach Kyabirwa in the early morning, right in time for breakfast. A boiled egg, bread with butter and jam, coffee and a Ugandan banana – not bad for my first meal.

The meals are taken on Moses’s porch, with his wife and 3 of his 6 sons, his grandson, his cousin and a couple of other young community members that Moses takes care of. It’s all a big family and they are happy to host the incoming volunteers.

Moses’s Compound

The new school, Little Stars, is a project funded by Giusi, an Italian woman who has been coming to Kyabirwa for the last 3 years, and superbly executed by Moses. Giusi has done an amazing job, and the school now hosts around 120 children (exact numbers are a hard thing to rely on in Uganda) spread into 3 classrooms. The aim of Little Stars is to be a pre-primary school where children can come and learn the basics, but also to spend time together and play with each other. It aims to be the first step before the kids are heading to the Public primary school just up the road, where the first Lilipad Library was setup back in 2017.

At Little Stars, Lilipad swings still are swinging, and the kids rejoice at seeing a new face in the surroundings. Among curious and excited smiles, lots of high-fives are given and I can read on their faces that they know something new is coming for them.

The School yard with the old Lilipad toys – Swing and See-saw are coming!

After breakfast, we immediately get to work and continue painting the walls, with lots of conversation as I am curious to know more about the project, Moses and Giusi’s plans for the room and of course, a bit of local gossip.

After lunch, we head to Jinja, the local town, to buy some necessary supplies and paint to finish the coating on the room.

When we come back we continue painting: we finish the top part of the walls in blue, as well as a side wall in cream color – tomorrow we will finish the painting, and start building the shelves where the books will be placed!

Read more

Reflexions on Fundraver – Our 2nd Anniversary Party!

On February 1st, Lilipad celebrated 2 years of hard work and commitment to the values of our mission at ACUD MACHT NEU in our hometown Berlin. The party was an absolute success and we, the Lilipad Team, are overwhelmed by the love and support that so many of you expressed to the cause.

Attendance vastly exceeded anything we could have expected, and we were able to raise double than our goal! The total of €2,100 euros donated by almost 300 fundravers will be put to use to support our existing libraries and was already of great help to open up our latest library in Uganda (5th in total!). We are incredibly proud of the progress we have seen since founding Lilipad back at the beginning of 2017. This anniversary was the largest event Lilipad has organised so far and we cannot wait for the next to come.

The party lasted until dawn, and we were delighted to have on stage dear friends and Lilipad members. Thank you Diva International, Starfunkel, Kim Anker, Man & Wife, Pau & Yone and Boris Filipov from the bottom of our hearts for providing us with groovy tunes all night long!

As in any anniversary worthy of that name, we also had cake! Our friends were kind enough to bake a beautiful and delicious custom Lilipad anniversary cakes. Many thanks Sam and Sina, for your indispensable contribution to the party and for putting your great baking skills to our cause!

We would like to thank all fundravers that partied for charity and donated their energy, good vibes and euros to Lilipad’s cause! Our mission becomes much more meaningful and enjoyable when are able to make everyone involved happy in the process. It is for us a great joy to have the opportunity to give something back to Berlin and the people that support the idea behind Lilipad.

We hope to see you all very soon in our next fundraising event in Berlin!

“It is truly inspiring to see people engaged in a shared cause, especially, one as important as education.”

Lucas, fundraver

“It’s been remarkable to witness how Sara and her crew are managing to bring together such quality and fun events in order to raise awareness about their project. The community is constantly growing over the years and the money raised always exceeds expectations. Looking forward to more gatherings and successes for Lilipad!”

Alexandre, fundraver

” Lilipad is a project that does not only build small libraries but it also managed to build a lovely Berlin community that moves together like a nomad tribe from place to place to bring joy and raise funds. I am very happy to be part of it and looking forward to all the next exciting events!”

Iva, DJ &fundraver

Reflexions on our first Children Book Party

Last September, we had the chance to open a little children library in Köpenick, in collaboration with Stephanus – a local charitable organisation. While the main purpose of this library is the integration of the new refugee community, we are also hoping for it to become a happy place where all kids from the neighbourhood can meet, laugh and exchange, all surrounded by an entertaining collection of books.

That was our first event with the children and we can’t wait to organise more of these, as they truly filled our team with joy and fluffy happiness.

Zahra’s Testimony

Zahra in full action with the “Hungry Caterpillar”

” The first Lilipad event involving children that I had the opportunity to attend was the kids book party and library opening in Köpenick, Berlin. Sara has been an acquaintance (now friend!) of mine for a few years and I’d become quite the enthusiast for the pub quiz nights Lilipad hosts. For those who haven’t been, highly recommend it!

More recently, I’d helped out with the Lilipad Summerfest, which was also a great success in my opinion – a day filled with fun things ranging from a pop-up tattoo artist to funky DJs to a silent auction! I really adored the concept of Lilipad and how these events made it both exciting and easy for a community of mostly young individuals to give back. As I’d been working as an English teacher for a Kita here in Berlin, when the proposition arose to help with the project in Köpenick I could not decline!

Honestly, even though my job involves working with children every day, I was quite nervous. Letting down a room of bright eyed little people is probably one of the worst things to happen in life, ever. We had planned to separate the afternoon in Arabic, English and German sections, but had no idea what type of turnout to expect. As we stood around with an eye on the time, making last last minute adjustments to the decorations, library setup, snack table, etc., the first family arrived.

And then another, and another.

Of course the teeny tiny muffins were a hit and there were also some sort of googley-eyed monster toys the children could put on their fingers they seemed to get a major kick out of. One of the more outgoing children of the group, Mustafa was bouncing around with about 5 on his hand. Though, this may also have had something to do with the Disney songs playing in the background!

The 5 of us (the educators and the Lilipad team members) made our rounds engaging with the families and trying to make the kiddos feel comfortable. Soon enough most of us had either cat whiskers or butterflies painted on our (laughing) faces. It was a great help to also have Katja there who worked at the facility and was already acquainted with some of the crowd. In total there were about 15 children, ranging from maybe 1 to 10 years in age. It was quite a culturally mixed group (mostly with a refugee background but not only) and the book readings were all received very well. Who couldn’t be interested by the the Hungry Caterpillars excessive and weird diet?! We separated the readings with some action songs and colouring activities. And of course more mini muffins.

But as good as mini muffins are, and the event unquestionably being a success, the kicker was unexpectedly at the end. The purpose of Lilipad is to build these cute little children’s book libraries to promote reading and the ability for ones mind to explore new ideas, feelings and possibilities – for those who may never have the chance to be exposed to this privilege. Yes, it is a privilege. But most definitely should not be. Every child should have the chance to awe in wonder at the rainbow fish’s shiny scales and gift to share them with others around him.

As we were packed up and about ready to go, a final child arrived with his parents. The event was over but seeing his face light up at the actual library and the books it held was wonderful. I truly hope this little library only continues to grow and light up more faces like this one. In all the Lilipad libraries for that matter!

It was both a pleasure and honour to be a part of this event and I have much hope the community continues to get involved and make a difference for those where it matters. I know I will keep attending the pub quiz nights at least. And eating the leftover mini muffins. “

Anna’s Testimony

Anna with Mustafa and Tamara

In memory of…

Working with words, language and storytelling is my deepest passion – therefore, i am writing and reading every day, which is high-end luxury for me.
As a writer, i feel strongly connected to the medium book,
thinking a lot about the importance of having the opportunity to read.

The idea of Lilipad, to build libraries where they are truly needed, immediately seemed like a very important concern to share and provide to me – creating a common space where kids can learn to let go,
emerging individual imagination and interests without any pressure.

This summer, i gladly participated in setting up a workshop for a group of kids along with building a library with Lilipad in Köpenick.
It was a real pleasure to see how this bright variety of children reacted on the filled bookshelves same as on us reading and speaking
about the colorful world of thoughts and imagination inbetween those numerous book jackets. Discovering all the given books and presents together,
it became obvious how every child incredibly quickly received the opportunity
to read, starting to evolve an individual interest.

It is necessary to find ways to reflect and express the inner life –
particularly for children, who have to grow up so fast in this overwhelming world we live in.
Thinking about culture and education, a lot of kids feel sometimes lost or left alone.
Books are great company!
They convey knowledge and sensitivity for life, symbolize motivation and an active mind, stimulating the senses.

Within my experiences during the workshop,
i am very certain about uncountable reasons to support Lilipad
&
the needfulness to help young souls to find their own way in the world of thoughts,
creation and imagination.

#team

Why I started Lilipad

Lilipad is celebrating its two-year anniversary, so for me it’s a chance to answer a question I’ve heard a lot in the last couple of years: How did this all come about?

In October 2016, I moved to Bangalore to do a project for work. Within a few hours of landing, I had handed in my notice (with 3 months leave).

It had come to a point in my life that I wanted something new and more meaningful. Getting to India really cemented that point to me. Taking this decision meant that while I was still working in India, my mind was a lot more free to roam around and wonder about the endless possibilities that would be offered to me on my future break from work.


Indian hangs
Jaipur, November 2016

I considered many things, including heading to Rio for Carnival. But, as good as sun, caipirinas and samba sounded, it didn’t feel right. Deep down I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere. It was something I’d never had the chance to experience before, and that I always felt I should do.

Almost everyone has a cause that touches them, and from a young age mine has always been to help – however I can, at my very modest scale – children in the street. The difficulties these kids have in their day-to-day life fills me with a sense of both deep sadness and strong resolve to help.

While looking for an organisation to help, I tried really hard to find something where I could make real, lasting change (avoiding what’s know as voluntourism). Local charities were very difficult to find online. I realised very quickly that given that I had only one month to volunteer I couldn’t possibly commit to helping children in the streets – I knew I was not qualified enough to be a valuable resource, both in terms of the time I could offer and the impact I could have. I decided instead to start looking for a charity in the education sector.

My first searches were focused on the West African region since I would have the opportunity to discover my home continent and work in French. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out, so I started to expand my search elsewhere in Africa.

This is what lead me to discover Kyabirwa Primary School and, most importantly, Moses. Moses was the mathematics teacher at the school and responsible for the volunteer program, a wonderful person that not only helped me set up our first library, but also exchanged emails with me for 4 months before the actual trip, drove me around every time we needed something and most importantly welcomed me into his family.


With Moses and his beautiful family
Uganda, March 2017

While Moses gave me the choice to contribute to the school however I could (even allowing me to teach English if I wanted), I wanted to make sure to find a way to have a real contribution, one that would benefit the children more than it just satisfied my urge to do something. I had to remind myself constantly that this trip was not about me, it was all about the kids and I am glad this was a focus of ours from the early days as I believe it represents one of the most important values of Lilipad.

It didn’t take me long to lean towards the idea of a library.

As a child, novels quickly became my favorite companions. I come from a family of scientists who don’t read much except from medical journals or engineering reviews. My love for books came from my grandfather, who used to be an avid reader. He was constantly telling me stories about the French classics that he used to read when he was in primary school back in the 40s-50s, or when he was writing poetry as a kid under the alias “Nabu” (after Nabuchodonosor, the longest reigning monarch of Babylon).

His stories fascinated me so much that I started to read from a young age. Needless to say that I didn’t exactly start by reading Alphonse Daudet or Victor Hugo (rather Minnie Mag and Goosebumps), but by the time I was 12 my favourite thing to do was to go to second-hand bookstores and score as many Goosebumps as I could.

Remains of my childhood library
Casablanca

I used to be extremely shy so books represented an escape for me, a way to connect with extravagant characters and discover things that were not offered to the Moroccan kid that I was. I truly believe that my curiosity and will to discover more than what was written for me comes from books, and this is why I wanted to share it with as many kids as I could.

Books are a cheap commodity. Everyday, people get rid of their old books or leave them in their basement until they can’t be used anymore. It’s so easy to give access to books to every child in the world, yet what is priceless and valuable is how these are introduced to them. If I didn’t have my grandfather to encourage me to read, I would probably wouldn’t have read as much.

Doing Lilipad has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’s not always easy to work a full-time job and also try to run everything that goes with Lilipad, but thanks to the help of the team and our incredibly supportive group of friends we are going stronger than ever. A million thanks to everyone involved from close or far. I truly can’t wait to write all future chapters with you all.

Home


Morocco book launch party

October 6th 2018

We wanted to make the inauguration day of the library at Centre de Sauvegarde de L’Enfance memorable and create a really fun introductory afternoon for the girls who live there. They all spend most of their time in the facility, so they were extremely happy to be entertained that day. 

The girls entered the library group by group and were given a tour and welcome by Yahya. The director of the centre gave an inauguration speech explaining how books are organised, encouraging them to use it and just have fun with the books.

At the end of each tour, the group was given half an hour to pick a book and read or explore the other activities in the library. We created a little corner for colouring and provided all the material → this was very popular on the opening day!

After the library part was over, we had a personal trainer come in and use a gym space the centre had available to give the girls a fitness class for an hour. 

We also hired a DJ to play music and moved the party to a big event room where we prepared snacks, drinks and the DJs organised some games for the girls (a lot of dancing involved).

Testimony: In the field

Yahya’s story of École Lakhdar

My “Lilipad’ story began very simply. I saw the work Sara was doing in Uganda & was really impressed about what she achieved. So, when she told me that the second country will be Morocco, where I have been living since 2015, I was determined to help and make things easier for her in the field. 

When I began, she already had first contacts (schools, partners …) and my part was to get things started quickly. We had a first school visit to determine needs, discuss details with the administration and have all permissions from local authorities to start the project. Always in touch with Sara, I started to contact different suppliers in order to buy school supplies & books to prepare for the back-to-school period. 

Moreover, in September 2017, when Sara came to Morocco, we began to see our mini-library take shape. It was amazing to see the work we had done when the day arrived to distribute the school supplies & new books that the children were so unused to. We could see more than 150 students smiling and happy to begin a new year with so much motivation and the necessary supplies for a normal kid and a normal school year.

It was a pleasure to help these children through Lilipad action and I will be honored to have the opportunity to do so in the future.

– Yahya

Lilipad’s Big 2017 Event Recap!

Lilipad’s primary goal is, and will always be, to provide educational resources to children in need. To do this, we like to think of creative, fun ways to raise money and spread awareness of what we’re doing. That’s why we love our events!

In 2017 we held a series of events in Berlin aimed at adults (as well as some events in England with children). Among other things, we held a Drag Queen Children’s Book Reading, a Summer Fest, a Gallery Exhibition, a Yoga Class (live music), a Concert, an Outdoor Workout and plenty of legendary Pub Quizzes!

Each event was unique in its own way and each event, we feel, strived not just to provide a platform for Lilipad to raise money, but also to bring people together for a good cause. The way we see it, people are social beings, and if we can organise something that people enjoy doing anyway, the fun is only multiplied by knowing that everything you spend is going to a good cause.

There’s also something special about holding events that capture the imagination of an adult, such as our Drag Queen Reading. Lilipad seeks to inspire young minds to dream and to imagine a life beyond what they know. With our events we feel that in some way we encourage adults to realize that they shouldn’t stop dreaming, either. That’s the power of the imagination, and it’s something we should all cherish.

So join us on a trip back through 2017 to look back on all our incredible events!

January

Lilipad Charity Exhibition @ Fata Morgana Gallery

Our inauguration event was an exhibition at Fata Morgana Gallery in Mitte. We prepared sangria, cakes and much more – all surrounded by friends and art.

Charity Yoga with Jeanna de Kroon

We also hosted a very special yoga event in January, the first time fitness and charity came together for Lilipad (but not the last time!). Thanks to Jeanna De Kroon for hosting!

February

Valentine’s Live Music @ IPA Bar

February saw our first live concert at IPA Bar. We were blown away by the support, and thrilled to welcome Isa Bella & Mr. Wright and Beatelephant. Be sure to check them out!

Reading & Show by The Real Housewives of Neukölln

Our most fabulous show of the year was hosted by the beautiful Real Housewives of Neukolln! They read children stories to a rapt audience in their own unique, hilarious way.

June

Outdoor Training Session

In the heat of summer a group of determined fitness freaks went to the park with Maree Walch to sweat it out! It was another great success!

August

Lilipad’s Charity Summer Fest @ Kultur Labor

August saw our last major event of the year, the Charity Summer Fest. A huge thank you to everyone who showed up, and an even bigger thank you to all the people who helped out! We had food, DJs, books for sale, and even drinks provided from BRLO!

Thanks to Dhia, DJ Wah China, Jagerverb and Nash Potato for performing.

Throughout the year

Pub Quizzes @ Frollein Langer

We also hosted several pub quizzes throughout the year! They’ve helped us raise a huge amount of money, and raise awareness of the charity. Thanks to Frollein Langer for hosting us, and Man & Wife for being the quiz masters!

Children’s Events

We were lucky enough to count on the support of Amy in Brighton, who helped us out by hosting a series of events for children in her home!

Once again, a big thank you to everyone who came and got involved. We couldn’t do it without you!

Author: Paul Fowler

Liliblog // Let’s Read More!

“Reading? All of this?! Nah, I’ll just keep scrolling…”

You may never have told yourself this explicitly but if you’re anything like me, you’ll recognise the feeling.

In the digital world we live in, it has become more and more common to spend (or waste, depending on your outlook) the little free time we have by thumbing our way down on our phone screens, or watching the newest season of something on our computers, than to actually reading a book.

Yes, my dear librarians, writers and publishers, it seems that reading – one of the oldest forms of leisure that has kept you in business and fame for the last centuries – has indeed fallen a few spots on the Top 10-Time-Spending-Activities-Chart. I know it has on mine: I used to read quite a lot, but the last years I have dedicated more time to online or digital interactions than to diving in a book.

 

Reading Does You Good!

Reading is proven to have a lot of benefits, ranging from reducing stress to improving sleep and memory and, of course, engaging your brain. It is one of the first things we learn how to do and a skill we use so naturally that we cannot keep ourselves from doing it once we see some text in our language. It’s fun, helps us building knowledge and culture, gives wings to our imaginations, and is a stimulating activity.

Despite all of this, we are often exchanging it for lighter, more modern and more “social” activities (we need the quotation marks because that group of people bent down on their phones doesn’t actually look very sociable…). It seems like our generation is forgetting about reading. Books are no longer the themes we talk about, they are no longer our bedside companions and no longer the activity we choose to spend that lazy Sunday.

Yes, the big book names are still popular and making their way into our subway rides or waiting rooms: the “Lord of the Rings”, “Harry Potter’s” and “Millennium Trilogy’s” of life are still huge successes and millions have read them. But if there is no big bestseller book on our radar, if we’re not told what to read by a Facebook algorithm, then we are most likely going to forfeit the idea of reading a book altogether.

There’s something about this that fills me with a little sadness: I remember the good old days at school or primary, feeling curious about all the books I would read. Seeing all those colours, hearing bedtime stories, the sounds, imaginary heroes and, at some point, reading on my own, is what captured me in my early ye¬¬ars. Jumping from one chapter to another, picturing the stories so vividly in my mind, imagining each character and exploring their worlds. Back then this was more than enough to entertain me.

Why Getting Older Often Means Less Books

However, this magic faded away when adolescence kicked in. Sports, flirting, computers and digital interactions became a part of my life. And, let’s be honest, they were extremely fun. Book started to loose ground, and I didn’t seem to mind too much.

Nobody likes to be bored, and that time that we sometimes have to kill which was once kept alive with a book is now replaced by a quick and easy-access digital interaction. Books were swapped for MSN, which is now Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram or SnapChat… you name it.

Reading takes time, some patience and actual focus, and with so many things distracting us in our lives – multiple selfies per day, Netflix, CandyCrush – it can feel like these things are impossible for us to do. There is so much happening out there, that we don’t want to be missing out.

On top of that, we’re constantly told to stay effective, to work hard, and to squeeze every possible second of productivity out of our lives. Technology has enabled us to do many things and in an easier way (where is my Uber?!) and yet, paradoxically, this has piled pressure on us to do more things. In a world with No zero days!, and Boost your productivity rate now!, sitting down with a book can feel like an unaffordable luxury.

So, What Can You Do to Read More?

But when I think about it, I’m probably reading more words than I have at any time in my life. Bits of information here and there, a shortened version of a conversation, a catchy headline, a random update from a friend across the globe, the latest news on celebs… I’m reading all of this regularly, but a full book, with chapters, intrigues, twists and turns and a complete plot… Sometimes that feels like a thing of the past.

Well, I know that I miss the days I’d read all the time and easily got lost in books. In fact, I realized this a while ago now, and I am making a conscious effort to get back into reading.

I used to find myself drowning in my Facebook feed, miles away from anything that actually interested me, hypnotised by the scrolling and shallow information flow. Then I just started taking a book in my backpack. Suddenly, reading was a choice again.

Sure, having a good book is key, and it does take some effort. I can tell you it’s not easy at first, and I do still scroll and post, but once you’re back into it, the hard thing is putting your book down.

So, even though that tube ride is quite long and boring and you have some posts to scramble through, remember, a good old book is always an option!

Author: Manuel Paisana

Edited by: Paul Fowler

My Lilipad Ugandan Journal

The moment I came up with the idea for Lilipad, over a coffee in Bangalore, seems far away now. At that time I just knew a few things: I wanted to volunteer with children in the street or children’s education, I wanted to know where my donations would go (if I managed any), I wanted to be assured that any work I did was actually of value to the community, and I definitely didn’t want to take away jobs from locals simply to make myself feel good about having volunteered.

Lilipad solved all those issues for me, and now having returned from Uganda, I’m more sure than ever that this was the correct way to go. For me personally, of course, working at the Kybirwa Primary School was an incredible and rewarding experience. I also truly believe that thanks to the decision to start Lilipad rather than simply volunteer, we (the whole Lilipad family) were able to contribute something of lasting value to the school itself, too.

Uganda is a beautiful, diverse country that confounded and exceeded all my expectations. The people are funny, polite and extremely warm – meeting the locals both at the school and around the country made the trip unforgettable. Best of all, of course, was spending time with the children, who are filled daily with such boundless energy it’s pretty much impossible to keep up.

IMG_8913.JPGBreak time, my favorite time of the day while at the school

As well as the incredible hospitality we received, we were treated to stunning treks around the country, which allowed us to see the awesome and diverse landscapes that make up the Ugandan countryside.

Of course, the main reason to go was not to soak in the country’s many qualities, but to put in some hard work and build a library for the kids!

I started work 4 days later than I had intended owing to delays at Berlin airport, but thanks to help from the incredible headmaster, Moses, and Cody (an American volunteer and teacher apprentice), I was able to get much more work done in the space of time I had left than I expected.

IMG_8842.JPGFirst look at the storage room with Cody (before picture of the reading room)

IMG_8883.JPGReading room in process

We spent the first few days cleaning out two rooms at the school that were not being used and then painting them in order to make sure the kids not only had a library, but also a nice space in which they could enjoy their books. In this time we also went to buy the text books and more reading books from a book seller in the local village, Jinja. I was very pleased to find that the seller was open to bargaining, and I was able to get the books cheaper than I had expected!

IMG_8757.JPGThe bookshop in Jinja where all 872 books came from

This deal had the unexpected benefit of allowing us to buy some playground equipment for the pre-schoolers, who otherwise have almost nothing to play with. The swings we bought will hopefully encourage the kids not only to come to school every day, but also to enjoy their time there. Moses was the one who came up with the idea of the swings. We found ourselves with over 1,000 books provided already and about 200 euros left. I remember him saying that more than just to learn, most of these kids were going to school to enjoy simple social interaction with other kids. Also, most of them never owned any toys so those swings would make them really happy – no need to say that I was more than convinced about the idea.

IMG_8981.JPGSwings delivery

Finally, towards the end of the Lilipad time in Kyabirwa, we opened the library and reading room, and had the most amazing day with the kids while spontaneously organizing some reading activities. We divided the children into different groups (from Primary 1 to 7) and read a story to them, while trying to involve one or two kids who would be acting “on stage”.

It is hard to find the words to express how honored I feel to have been part of such a wonderful school and community. I am already looking forward to going back to Kyabirwa to see how the library is progressing, and how the kids are enjoying the books that have been generously donated by so many of you. In the meantime, I remain in touch with Moses, without whom Lilipad wouldn’t have even started.

Thanks once again to everyone who donated and helped in anyway, it means more than you could know!


LILIPAD IN A FEW (CHEEKY) PICTURES

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