Rotary: Transforming communities with container library project

The container that will be shipped to Bloemfontein. PHOTO: Supplied

Rotary International’s commitment to literacy education has taken a transformative turn with the launch of an ambitious project in Bloemfontein. The initiative, spearheaded by the Rotary Club of Bloemfontein-Raadzaal aims to promote literacy among children and adults in underprivileged communities.

This initiative involves a 12-meter shipping container filled with books, which will serve as a community library. According to Roderick Jacobs, President of the Rotary Club of Bloemfontein-Raadzaal, the project was conceived over two years ago when Rotary International organised a book drive, collecting a vast array of books.

He explained that as the vision expanded beyond mere book collection, the club sought ways to foster not only reading skills but also comprehension. Through collaborative efforts between Rotary International and Canadian Rotarians, a partnership was established that involves shipping containers packed with books to Rotary clubs worldwide, free of charge. “All we have to do on this side is pay for the harbour costs for the container, and after that, get the container to wherever your Rotary Club is,” said Jacobs.

The Library Association of South Africa (LIASA) joined forces with the Rotary Club of Bloemfontein-Raadzaal, identifying a suitable location for the container library about a year ago. The goal is to place the container at Mangaung Primary school in a way that benefits both the school and the broader community. They also hope to include Phahamisang and Batho Primary School.

According to Jacobs, LIASA will assist in sorting the extensive book collection, estimated at around 80 000 volumes, ensuring that the library serves educational and recreational needs. To fund this initiative, the Rotary Club of Bloemfontein-Raadzaal is organising a Legends Rugby Evening on 3 November at the Lettie Fouché School. The event will feature rugby legends such as Danie Gerber, Gysie Pienaar, and Heinrich Füls. The event starts at 19:30. Tickets cost R400 and can be purchased from Hunney on 061-425-6826.

“We will also auction items off to generate the money to get the container from Durban to Bloemfontein,” said Jacobs.

While fundraising events like the Legends Rugby Evening are essential, the Rotary Club also welcomes community involvement. They seek donations of South African educational books to complement the Canadian collection and emphasise that joining Rotary as a member or supporter is another way to contribute expertise and resources to this worthy cause.

Once fundraising is finalised, the club hopes to have the container in Bloemfontein by January 2024.

As the container library project unfolds in Bloemfontein, it offers an opportunity for individuals and businesses to join hands and make a lasting impact on literacy and education.

Justine Fortuin