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Books, books, books: sorting!

I originally planned to invite any PCV involved in our library book project to my site to sort books with the Mayfields. In the past, PCVs have taken all the books out of the boxes onto tarps and then sorted them into different boxes depending on what schools want. This time, we did it a little differently – and a lot quicker! All the books we ordered were “leisure reading” books, which means they are random assortments of children’s and chapter books. Each box was already labeled based on grade level, so instead of opening all the boxes, we just assigned an average amount of boxes per PCV based on grade level the PCV requested. We only opened really heavy boxes to double check that a PCV didn’t get a box of textbooks in lieu of library books. All boxes of books I’ve opened for my library are incredible; I can’t imagine the other boxes aren’t similar to mine since I pulled them randomly!

My partner-in-crime Paige, who has been extremely helpful with this project, crunched numbers for me and assigned each PCV a certain number of boxes. (All of these numbers ended working up perfectly. And as a mathematically challenged person, I am forever grateful!)

We originally had to store all the boxes into a spare classroom at my school because we couldn’t use the large community hall at my school until after the Grade R graduation. The hall opened up last week; two of my good PCV friends – Katrina and Michael —  came down from Manguzi to help sort the boxes and for a nice visit with me and my host family.

It took all week, but Katrina, Michael, and the older boy learners moved all the boxes into the community hall and placed each order under someone or a school’s name. Now the boxes are either ready to be picked up, or shipped off to another area of South Africa. Michael’s counterpart picked up Katrina and Michael’s boxes on Friday, and they have arrived safely in Manguzi after a comical road trip.

My Peace Corps program director, Lydia, visited me last Wednesday for her routine check-in. She took back a bakkie full of boxes to the Peace Corps office in Pretoria to be delivered to the two PCVs that lucked out on the Mayfield’s generous delivery offer. I keep expressing my gratitude with this project, but  here’s some more: I’m really grateful to have such a fantastic program director, who will always go out of her way to help us and make our loads lighter! (Literally and figuratively.)

On Thursday, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education visited my school to see our recent donation, expressing much enthusiasm and support. Many schools in KZN have room for libraries and books, but getting a hold of children’s books is rather challenging in South Africa. This never really clicked in my mind until I was rummaging through my donation boxes and found countless books I had when I was little: Disney, Golden Series Books, Spot the Dog (MY FAVORITE), Sesame Street, Clifford, Maisy, etc. American pop culture is so strong that children’s books and toys are readily available and easy to adapt into learning materials. Many other places in the world don’t have such popular children icons. Anyways, the DOE will arrange for transport in the next two weeks to bring the books from my school to Northern KwaZulu-Natal PCV schools in Manguzi.  Slowly, but surely, these boxes will leave my community hall.

Now I’m engulfed in the mundane process of numbering all our new books and putting them into my school’s accession register. I hope to have everything done by January and will work during vacation to ensure this happens. I enjoy being a busy bee!

Yours in service,
Small heartLiz

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