Akili Trust Newsletter – March 2009

Three of the Akili trustees (Pam Dix, Lucy Evans & Ruth Beedle) have just returned from a visit to the Trust’s libraries in Kenya. This update is for all of our supporters and donors so that you can keep in touch with the progress of the libraries, the positive impact they are having and our future plans.

The Trust now has two established libraries in very rural areas in Coastal Province in Kenya. Education provision is improving in these areas though it is still expensive. Families have to make contributions to primary school costs, though it is notionally free, and secondary education is expensive. Currently, only about 23% of the population of Kenya goes to secondary school and Coastal Province has the lowest take-up of further education in Kenya. Libraries in Kenya are well respected and are seen as key places of free access to learning. The Akili Trust libraries are valued by the local communities and councillors, and academic results have improved in the area. The teachers believe that this is because of the greater access to educational resources we provide.

The Akili Trust’s aims are to develop a culture of reading and improved access to education. We have a few key objectives for each library:

  • They should be staffed with local employees – to make them more than simply collections of books!
  • They should be based in schools and made available to the wider community.
  • They should be stocked with carefully chosen books from the UK and African suppliers and with a range of local daily newspapers in Swahili and English.
  • There should be electricity and computers.
  • There should be local management committees.
  • To fund a number of secondary school bursaries each year.

Dabaso Library

nicci kenya 009Dabaso library has been established for four years and is run by the two librarians, Stephen and Josephine, who live locally and know the community well. The most popular books, other than newspapers, are core text books, African writers and football books. They asked us to take books by and about Barack Obama this year and these were well received. The really exciting news is that the library is about to be connected to electricity, which Akili will be paying for, and means that we can now send computers, via Computeraid. Stephen has completed his Certificate in Library Studies in Mombasa Polytechnic this year and his post was covered by Fred, who is currently working with the library committee on a history of the area.

Kakuyuni Library

kenya 50Kakuyuni library was set up two years ago and has already made an enormous impact in the local community. Janet and Salim, the two librarians, work closely with the Headteacher and Management Committee who have worked hard to develop a culture of reading in the local community and want to make the library a ‘lively place’. The outside area has been developed to provide more spaces to sit and read, in the shade of makuti shelters. The Trust has recently funded the electricity connection for the library and for one adjacent classroom so the community now has a place to read and study after dark. We are now arranging for computers to be sent and the Library Committee is already planning ways in which these can be used to improve education standards and for income generation.

Bursary Students

Each year the Akili Trust sponsors the secondary education of one boy and one girl from each primary school where the libraries are based. The students are selected by a special committee and have to meet specific criteria about achievement and personal financial circumstances. They have to maintain a high standard of grades and to work in the library during the school holidays.

Dabaso Bursary Students
Dabaso Bursary Students

During our trip, we met all of our bursary students and many of their parents. It was good to talk to them about their schools and their studies and, see that, like their British peers, they have aspirations for further education, to make a difference and to make life better in their communities. Lawrence, an 18 year old bursary students, says ‘My dream is to become a doctor and I have put a lot of concentration in my studies’. Fiki, aged 18, says that ‘through Akili I have been able to acquire encouragement and it is my sincere hope that I will be able to pursue my ambitions’. Zero, aged 16, says ‘My aim is to get a grade A in every exam because in the future I want to be a pilot.’ We have asked the Library Management Committees to investigate grants, bursaries and other funding opportunities for these students beyond secondary education.
The average annual cost of secondary education is approximately £250, including boarding fees. Secondary education lasts for four years so the Trust will be funding 16 students in total at any one time.

NGO Status: Akili Community Libraries Kenya

We are delighted that we are now a fully registered NGO in Kenya in addition to our charitable status in the UK. Being an NGO has a very beneficial impact on our status in Kenya, both on our dealings with local officials and on our tax status. For example, we now have a company bank account with KCB in Malindi.

Akili Board of Trustees

All of those involved in Akili, in the UK and Kenya, were saddened by the death of our Chair, Nicci Crowther, in November last year. One of the aims of this trip was to reassure local staff and committees that the Trust remains fully committed to the work Nicci started. Pam Dix will be the new Chair, Lucy Evans will be the Treasurer for Akili in the UK and for the NGO in Kenya, and Ruth Beedle will be in charge of fund-raising activities. Anne Sofer (Nicci’s sister) will be joining the UK Board shortly.

Next Steps

  • buying more African books
  • shipping books collected in the UK
  • shipping computers
  • preparing a funding bid for computer training in the two libraries
  • fundraising
  • developing the website – www.akilitrust.org
  • preparing a five year development plan
  • establishing the role of the Akili Community Libraries NGO.

How you can help

We accept donations in any currency and, if you are a UK tax payer, we ask that any donations are done in a tax-efficient manner. Donations can be paid by cheque (made payable to The Akili Trust and sent to the address below), directly into our bank account or through standing order (bank details below), or through our MyCharityPage link (www.mycharitypage.com, type Akili). Gift Aid forms are available by request or on our website.

Bank details:

  • Bank: CAF Bank Ltd
  • Sort code: 40-52-40
  • Account name: The Akili Trust
  • Account number: 00017134

Our fundraising target for this year is £10,000 and we hope you can help. Some examples of how money is spent:

  • One year’s bursary student at secondary schools costs £250
  • £185 per month pays for the salaries for the librarians in one library
  • Computeraid charge £49 per computer including shipping to Mombasa
  • Newspapers cost £21per month per library.

As Trustees we pay for all trips ourselves. We work hard to keep all administration and running costs in the UK to a minimum and no UK Trustee takes any form of salary or remuneration beyond properly incurred expenses. A full set of Report and Accounts for 2006/7 is available and the 2007/8 Report is in preparation.

Do feel free to contact us to discuss any ideas for the future development of the Trust and the work we are engaged in. The Trust is making a very positive difference to so many lives and we are glad that you are part of that with us and hope that you will be able to continue supporting us in the future.

With thanks and best regards to all our supporters, past and future!
Pam Dix, Lucy Evans & Ruth Beedle