"No matter where you are, kids love books and kids want to read," said Emily Stolfus, a 5th grade teacher at Boggy Creek Elementary School.
To fuel that love for books, Ms. Stolfus started a book collection for students in Botswana.
"I actually started teaching in Botswana, which is where this project gets its roots."
After graduating college, Ms. Stolfus signed up for the yearling Princeton Program. She taught Geography during her time in Botswana, working closely with a woman named Chaha.
"Chaha created Thumbila Trust and they target students in rural schools who don’t have access to local libraries."
Chaha reached out to Ms. Stolfus in December where she brought up the idea of a book collection. What started with a simple email to staff at Boggy Creek Elementary turned into a countywide effort of collecting books.
"A teacher at Parkway middle school organized students to get a collection."
Not long after, Orange County teachers jumped in to help. By the end of May, people across the world were sending books to Ms. Stolfus.
"We had libraries from New York donating and libraries from Missouri. It really became a cross country initiative."
More than 4,000 books flooded into her living room during the second semester.
"The collection was really aimed for was building basic English literacy because a lot of learning in rural Botswana is pure Satswana," said Ms. Stolfus. If you want to be successful in Botswana, a lot of the business is done in English."
It will take about three months for the books to ship to Botswana via boat. Once the shipment arrives, Chaha and local high school students will sort the books into four different libraries.
"Ideally, the goal is to be able to make them into traveling libraries to be able to switch them out every six months or every year."
These libraries should be accessible to students in January, just in time for the start of Botswana's new school year.
Click here to watch the video: https://youtu.be/bKra2afCGkk