Hands of Action Library (HOAL), was started by the community-based organization Hands of Action Uganda (HOA) consisting of 30 farmers in Randa, a small trading centre in Mt. Elgon. Randa is situated in one of the most remote and beautiful areas in Uganda, not accessible by public transport. Before January 2011 the organisation was known as Randa United Farmers’ Group, and the library was called Randa Community Library.
HOA is working in a number of areas, including agriculture, water, sanitation, environmental protection, child protection and education. HOA provide needy children and orphans with scholastic materials, reading materials, mosquito nets, medication, sponsorship and food through a feeding program.The organisation caters to over 180 needy children and orphans (some with single parents others with no parents, but staying with their guardians). They come together once a week to read aloud, single and to be counselled with HOA staff, including the librarians.
The library, along with a lower primary school (P1–3) is within the homestead of the Builimbi family, and is currently operating out of a private house, with only a small room at its disposal. But the library is much appreciated by its users, including pupils, teachers, famers and elders, and is most frequented in the school holidays.
The library’s mission is to make books accessible in an inaccessible community and to create liberty of books in the community schools for the present and the future.
There are six primary schools and one nusery school in the area: Randa Needy Care Nursery and Primary School are next to the library, in addition to Lunganga Primary School, Bukari Primary School, Bwakhate Primary School, Bulumino and Bulucheke Primary. There is one secondary school in the area, Shetume secondary school, 1 km from the library.
The library was initiated in July 2006 by 30 farmers, and it came into normal functioning in 2008, based on a wish to do something for the broader community, particularly the children, as there were essentially no books in the entire village.
The library started with only a few books, but in 2009 HOA built the lower primary school, thus attracting more users. The library has managed to secure the use of one room in a house built by a local civil servant, rent free, for three years.
Teachers from the nearby schools borrow books, some daily and others once a week to read to the pupils around midday.
RFL has received books from UTRT (72), UgCLA (80), the Canadian volunteer Auso (149), and Uganda Coalition for sustainable Development (20) and the organisation Bees for Development (29), in addition to the 70 books bought by the Randa United Farmers Group.
The librarian’s salary has, since 2009, been paid by Under the Reading Tree.
On Saturdays, and other times when the two classrooms are empty, they are used by the library users.
The books are kept in three wooden boxes, which stand upright, allowing browsing, but the room is only big enough for one person at a time.
The library committee has five members: the librarian, a shopkeeper, a councillor, a primary school teacher and a farmer. The committee meets every month to discuss how they can develop the library, particularly how they can get more funds and volunteers the meeting heads by executive director.
The director and founder, Mukhobeh Moses Khaukha, supervises the running activities of the library and does fundraising. He is also the secretary of the Library Board.
The most users of the library are primary and secondary school children, who are also the target group. During holidays the library is particularly popular with school-goers, and during school days other categories of users also come, including teachers, police officers, sub county officers, farmers and shopkeepers.
The librarian keeps two books for record-keeping; one with all the books in stock (currently 496), and one for recording borrowings.
Books may be borrowed for 2–3 days if they are popular, otherwise the librarian let’s borrowers keep books for up to three weeks.
All what we want now is our own building and books, since we own land which was donated to us by the community leader. And a part-time salary for assistant librarian.
Taxi from Old Taxi Park to Mbale (221 km). In Mbale, go to Aswan stage (1 km), from where there are boda-bodas to Randa/Bilimbi (there’s no public transport). Get off at the kerb 100 metres before the trading centre.
PO Box 208
Mukhobeh Moses Khaukha (director): 0773 097171
Mukhobeh Moses Khaukha (director): firstname.lastname@example.org