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Construction of a school library in Aussenkehr

Creating the future, book by book...

Think of the children´s libraries you know: brightly colored and welcoming spaces with shelves full of enticing books. They are a wonderland of reading, opening the windows to the universe of imagination, curiosity and learning. Stop now. Cross that image out of your minds eye. Replace it with this picture: A rickety metal frame with three sadly drooping shelves half-filled with battered books, propped up by rocks - the library for 800 children at the Aussenkehr Farm Primary School in Namibia.

That´s what the Children Support, Future Foundations Foundation thought when it got involved with the school on the farm in October 2020. Funds were simply not available to set up a proper library for the children of this fast-growing community. Other needs were more pressing. classroom. tables. chairs. Schoolbooks.
Außenkehr Farm, a green oasis on the banks of the Orange River, the natural border between Namibia and South Africa, has become a magnet for migrant working families from across the country. While 5,000 people live permanently in an improvised settlement on the farm, this community swells to 15,000 during harvest time. Many of these families leave their children behind when they leave, so that they can be taught about outward communion.

A library: the promise of a dignified future From the outset, the foundation recognized that young, developing minds need the stimulation of books just as the barren landscape in which they live needs water. Isolated in a life of deprivation and far from In cities with libraries, children craved books that would help them fulfill their potential and bring them closer to the promise of a dignified future. At the stakeholder meeting, the need for a library was soon high on the agenda. When they met at Außenkehr Farm in March 2021, it was unanimously decided to make setting up a school library by Namibians, for Namibians, a priority. All those present, whether farmers or Educators, health workers, police officers or academics could attest to the role that free access to books had played in their own lives. They affirmed that it is every child´s birthright to develop their full potential through access to the information the written word provides. It was simply unthinkable that so many children should grow up without books. Plans were immediately made to realize the dream of a school library and discussions with the Namibia Library and Archive Services (NLAS) ensued. But that would still take time, and the hunger for books was just too great. Appeals were launched and soon the children were engrossed in 200 brand new English books, all NLAS approved for eligibility. during the During the afternoon life skills program, the volunteers at the Außenkehr project were able to share their love of reading with their young protégés, many of whom had never held a picture book in their hands before. Realizing the dream together In the meantime, the plans for the library have been tackled with zeal. The participants of the conference agreed: the library should be able to accommodate about 80 to 100 learners at the same time, include reading and computer stations and offer analogue and digital media in all Namibian languages. Above all, it should they convey the joy of reading and the media and let the children´s imagination run free.

A checklist was prepared taking into account the requirements of the NLAS and the views of the Headteacher Ms. Suzie Kadhikwa and her staff. Two engineers from the UNAM Faculty of Engineering & IT in Ongwediva, Dr. Philemon Arito and Sam Shaanika entered the design as a competition for their students. The winning team came up with a simple but extremely effective design. The building, a one-storey square building with a floor area of approx. 600 m2, has only a few interior walls and is equipped with mobile furniture. It houses 65 reading and 35 computer workstations in an inviting space surrounded by bookshelves.

Our foundation was commissioned to evaluate the winning design and consulted ekz.bibliotheksservice GmbH from Reutlingen (for advice on the interior design) and the planning office Werner Sobek from Stuttgart (for the structural concept). The building will be integrated into the natural environment and supplied with green energy from a photovoltaic system - there is no lack of sun! With temperatures regularly exceeding 40 degrees during many months of the year, air conditioning may also be required.

An invitation for you to participate

The dream took shape. But the sobering fact is that there is still a long way to go from an excellent design on paper to a finished building. The current cost estimate for the construction and furnishing of the school library is 300,000 euros. The foundation for promoting children, foundation for the future will take over part of the financing and also grants from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs Apply for cooperation and development. But that´s not enough. We are looking for partners in Germany and Namibia who will co-finance the project and media for the library in English and Namibian provide. A small part of the library will also be dedicated to German literature to underscore the potential of literature to heal old wounds. Building block by building block, book by book, the partners will help to create a future for knowledge-thirsty children - the library is meant to be a spring, like the Orange River, which made Außenkehr Farm an oasis in this arid landscape.

Donnations for our school library-project on

July 2022

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