Adult Literacy and Entrepreneurship Association (ALEA) offers adult literacy classes, environmental conservation, and nursery education and other services to disadvantaged children. A core part of this is the library, which is situated in Kwapa, five km outside Tororo, and two km from the ALEA nursery school. The owner of the building, Kwapa Post Test Club, a communty-based organisation that provides HIV/AIDS information and education, co-operates with ALEA.
The library is located in a peri-urban area, with a mix of small businesses and farmland. Many people are subsistence farmers, and grow cotton as a cash crop. The library is only 11 km from the Kenyan border, and many Kenyans cross the border to go to school in Uganda.
The area is densely populated, with many schools in walking distance from the library. There is one secondary and one primary school a few hundred metres from the library. Within one km there is another one secondary and three primary schools, and more schools a bit further away.
Charles Emojong, the library director, started the library in 2005. The library was started to support ALEA as a resource and information centre. Another reason was that the schools around had very few books in their libraries.
Children are invited to read story books and tell simple stories, about once every two weeks. This is sometimes done at the library, and sometimes at a school. The children are also asked to read one at a time, to test how good they are at reading.
Once every two weeks a group comes to the library to learn reading, writing, family planning, child nutrition, hygiene, councelling and guidance as well as environmetal conservation.
Every Thursday the library organises Children’s Centre for children who are interested from Kwapa Primary School and St. Lawrence Secondary School. Starting at 12:30 am, some groups engage in drawing, others in music, dance and drama, and others in reading and telling stories, for about 45 minutes. On average 70 children come for the Children’s Centre every week.
On Thursday morning, the students’ parents come to share their experience about HIV/AIDS and perform acts of music, dance and drama. They also participate in a saving scheme.
Classes for Entrepreneurship Development Two days every month young mothers are tought how to make a budget and simple book keeping and banking.
The librarian’s transport allowance is paid for by the funds generated from user fees, about 50,000 per month. In addition annual subscription fees and membership fees generate a considerable amount of money each month. When the need is there, the director support the library out of his own pocket.
The library is spacious, and measures about 7 x 11 metres, no including the office and storage room of Kwapa Post Test Club.
There is one bookshelf, one mat for children, a desk for the librarian, a blackboard, two tables and 50 chairs (about half of which are usually in the library). There are some information posters on the walls.
Foreign novels 82
Foreign sec. textbooks 20
African primary textbooks 34
African secondary textbooks 22
Foreign storybooks 22
Telephone directories 6
Emmanuel Oupat, who has a diploma in human resource management, volunteers as a librarian on most days. Joyce Achipa, a primary teacher and a chairperson of Kwapa Post Test Club, and Julius Engoriat, an accountant and library board member, usually come every day, sharing their time between the office and the library.
The library board consists of five people, but only three are active. The board meets on monthly meetings to discuss how to get more books and discuss the way forward. The director is in charge of the finances.
The busiest day is Thursday, when Children’s Centre is arranged. But on all days people come to read – either their own notes or the library books. Users may check books out againt a fee, but this is very uncommon. Once a nun borrowed two books, paying 5,000 shillings.
There is a book for recording borrowings, but as of November 2011 only one loan was recorded. The librarian also keeps a list of members, but currently no membership cards have been issued. There is currently no record of user fees as only chidren so far have been active in using the library, but this is expected to be in place by the beginning 2012. There are also plans of introducing a record for library visits.
For secondary students and adults, lifetime membership fee is 5,000 shillings, and the number of lifetime members is 50. In addition, there is an annual subscription of 20,000 shillings, which 30 members have paid for 2011. Library use costs 200 shillings (max. six hours), generating about 50,000 shillings per month (an average of 10 paying visitors per day). Borrowing books costs 3,500 shillings per book (2,500 for nuns) – to reduce the risk of theft. By November 2011, only one person had borrowed books (two copies).
By 2012 Charles Emojong hopes to move the library to a newly built library in Tororo town. With a more central location, he hopes to attract more users, and since the new library belongs to the director, it is more secure. There are also plans of reducing the borrowing fee to 2,500 shillings per copy.
ALEA intends to start vocational training in welding and fabrication, tailoring and knitting, carpentry and joinery, painting and decoration, brick laying and concrete practice, plumbing and arts and crafts.
Kwapa Post Test Club
Take a taxi from Old Taxi Park, or a bus from the main Kampala Post Office to Tororo. Walk or take a boda-boda to Morukatipe Road, Senior Quarters. It is not signposted at the moment, but this is expected to be in place by February 2012.
Take a taxi from Old Taxi Park, or a bus from the main Kampala Post Office to Tororo. Take a taxi or boda-boda to Kwapa (5 km), and get off at the sub-county headquarters.
PO Box 31, Tororo
Charles Emojong (director): email@example.com