posted by

Mandela library containers

Together with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Cape Town based NGO Breadline Africa, has over the past four years provided 37 container libraries to schools across the country. The partnership forms part of the annual Mandela Day celebrations, with plans for a further 25 libraries to be placed in schools this year.

“The libraries help foster a love of reading and give an opportunity to children, many of whom hardly ever see a reading book, to come into contact with picture and story books,” Jade Orgill, Project Manager for Breadline Africa said. “Through the generosity of companies and donors, we’ve reached approximately 30 000 children in nine provinces, many of whom are entering the world of reading for the first time.”

“Literacy and the right to education is a human right,” Director of Breadline Africa, Tim Smith said of the initiative. “The project gives children an equal chance in life by helping them become confident and enthusiastic readers, and be given the means to learn; sadly this is not the case in many schools across the country.”

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 190 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.

“There are millions of shipping containers sitting empty at ports all around the world. We transform these versatile freight containers into fully functional mobile structures. This is a quick and inexpensive solution to infrastructure needs. 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 and media centres in schools. Each library costs on average R280 000, which includes provision for some books, librarian training and the complete upcycled structure.

Despite the challenges of accessing books, which can be costly, publishing agencies and companies have come through to help with the book collection and distribution. Partners such as Soul Buddyz, Room to Read, Biblionef, Pan Macmillan and the Bookery all contributed to the project. Macmillan Teacher Campus provided librarian training for the past two years with a third training module scheduled for later this year.

“The success of the initiative relies entirely on the support of the general public and corporates. We encourage everyone to get involved and remember the legacy left by Mandela,” Smith said. “Everything changes when we read. It is that change, the growth and the act of reading that is the very ethos of the container initiative.”

For more information, to get involved or to sponsor the Mandela Day Libraries Project, contact or call 021 418 0322.


Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications

Beverley Houston

021 447 1082 / 082 824 8617

On behalf of Breadline Africa

Director: Tim Smith

Programme Manager: Puleng Phooko

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.