Book Aid International 2018 Reports Biggest Year Yet, in Africa and Middle East

In News by Porter Anderson

The educational charity Book Aid International cites 25 countries as destinations of its books donated by publishers last year.

Syria is one of the markets to which Book Aid International delivered books for the first time in 2018. Here, a boy named Omar, left, is reading to his friend at a school in Idlib. Image: Syria Relief, Provided by Book Aid International

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

More Than 1.28 Million Donated Books in 2018
In London, Book Aid International this week is reporting that in 2018, it transported more than 1.28 million books to libraries, schools, prisons, hospitals, and refugee camps in 25 countries.

The charity’s operations last year represented an expansion, according to the staff, to embrace more displaced people and more war-impacted destinations than in the past.

As examples, the nonprofit cites:

  • 3,750 books sent to Mosul where to help rebuild a destroyed library
  • 2,591 books sent to Syrian refugees in Jordan
  • 18,684 books sent to South Sudan, where the UN Commission on Human Rights reports it’s investigating what appears to be systematic sexual violence amid the country’s civil war
  • 5,000 books sent to support children in Cameroon, where the Voice of America’s Moki Edwin Kindzeka on January 3 reported that English-language areas are being deserted as battles continue between military forces and separatists
  • 25,045 books to schools in Syria for children struggling to learn amid the hostilities
New Markets, Educational Emphasis

Donated books arrive in Sierra Leone in a 2018 shipment. Image: Book Aid International

The company’s work in Africa is largely more focused on educational channels, particularly cash-strapped libraries in regions in which residents can’t afford books for their homes. In particular, communities in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda were assisted in 2018, say officials, and this type of work was found in eight African nations overall last year.

Newly targeted markets in 2018 were the Gambia, Ghana, Jordan, Syria, Bhutan, Nepal and Iraq.

More than 50 percent of the books shipped in 2018 by Book Aid International were for primary-school children. As part of the initiative, 16 new “Children’s Corner” installations were sent to libraries, while 25 “Book Box” library collections were included in the charity’s work. (This work is part of the “Inspiring Readers” programming that has won an International Excellence Award from the London Book Fair in association with the UK’s Publishers Association.

‘Partners in the Publishing Industry’

A Book Aid International team finishes packing a 2018 shipment in London. Image: Book Aid International

In a prepared statement, Book Aid’s CEO Alison Tweed is quoted, saying, “Sending more than 1.28 million books would not have been possible without the many thousands of individuals, companies, and trusts across the UK and around the world who have given their money, time and support.

“I would also like to thank our partners in the publishing industry, who donate the brand new books we provide.

“Together, we’ve made more brand-new, life-changing books available to readers around the world than ever before. We have ambitious plans for the future and look forward to doing even more for the people around the world who need books most in 2019.”

The charity reports that it receives no government funding and relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, companies, and funding organizations to continue its work. At present, Book Aid International cites £2 (US$2.55) as the cost of sending one book into one of its beneficiary destinations.

Schoolchildren in Malawi work with books donated by publishers in 2018. Image: Book Aid International

More from Publishing Perspectives on Book Aid International is here and on charity in general is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.