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Breadline Africa library containers

Limpopo: Together with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and companies such as Grandmark International, JP Morgan Chase, LegalWise and the Tata Steel Corporation, Breadline Africa has successfully provided 26 container libraries to rural schools across the country. A further 13 will be placed in schools this year, with a library opening set to take place in Limpopo at the Mahlodumela Lower Primary School in Chebeng on 25 April. The library has been sponsored by Bariq Al Amal and Channel Islam International.

“The libraries give an opportunity to children, many of whom hardly ever see a reading book, to come into contact with picture and story books and to enter the wonderful world of reading for the first time,” Puleng Phooko, Project Manager for Breadline Africa said. “Through the generosity of companies and donors, we’ve reached more than 19 000 children in nine provinces.”

A study on school libraries conducted by UCT in 2010 that showed illiteracy is not only a result of too few functional libraries, but that the teachers themselves are not familiar with how best to make use of libraries.

“A pilot monitoring and evaluation system assessment is currently being led by Breadline Africa on the roll out of the container libraries. Once this is properly in place, we will be able to have case studies that speak to the success of the project,” Phooko said.

For the past three years Breadline Africa has worked with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory to place container libraries in all of the nine provinces. The partnership forms part of the annual Mandela Day celebrations.

“Literacy and the right to education is a human right,” Director of Breadline Africa, Tim Smith said of the initiative. “Every school should have access to a library and every child should be able to read, write and be given the means to learn; sadly this is not the case in many schools across the country. The library container initiative needs the support of the general public and corporates. We encourage everyone to get involved and help in some way.”

Breadline Africa is one of the biggest suppliers of converted containers for poverty relief in Southern Africa, the Cape Town based charity has provided over 180 containers to poverty stricken communities since their establishment in 1993. The NGO specialises in renovating disused shipping containers and recycling them for essential community purposes.

“Our projects try to establish a level of self-sustainability within the community,” Director of Breadline Africa, Tim Smith said.

The disused shipping containers are renovated and used as community kitchens to serve food to the very poor, day care centres for children, sports club changing rooms, health clinics, ablution blocks and educare centres and libraries in schools. Each library costs on average R160 000 to refurbish.

Despite the challenges of accessing books, which can be costly, publishing agencies and companies have come through to help with the book collection, sorting and distribution. Times Media, AVUSA, Room to Read, Biblionef, Puo, Pan Macmillan, the Bookery, Help2Read, Pick n Pay, the Korean Embassy and ATNS all worked their magic to ensure the libraries have books. The Macmillan Teacher Campus provided librarian training in 2012 and a second training module has been scheduled for later this year.

“The success of the initiative relies entirely on the support of the general public and corporates such as Chanel Islam International. Through their Educating for the future campaign, this is the second library that has been placed in the past six months. It is this kind of commitment and involvement we need from individuals, groups and corporates,”  Smith said. “In the words of Tata Mandela ‘readers become leaders’ – this is the very ethos of the container initiative.”

For more information, to get involved or to sponsor a container library container, contact or call 021 418 0322.



Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Beverley Houston

021 462 1723 / 082 824 8617


On behalf of Breadline Africa:

Director: Tim Smith


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