The Chamazi Community Library is located in a semi-urban area located 25km south of Dar es Salaam and began through a collective effort between UVIKIUTA (Tanzanian NGO), Sarah Switzer, Africa Community Technical Service (ACTS), and Trinity Western University. UVIKIUTA manages this project and receives volunteers regularly through their various partnerships with various groups outside of Tanzania, and these volunteers are volunteering time, resources and funds for the library project.
The library construction began in June 2008. It currently stands fully in use with a modest collection of books, but slowly growing. As the collection grows more shelves will always be needed, as well as more tables and chairs.
A collection of books began in June 2008 when TWU students collected and brought a selection of books. These books are mostly uniquely accessible in North America, and not as easily found in Tanzania. The book collection was temporarily being stored in a spare room donated by UVIKIUTA, but was moved into the library August 2009. In 2011 there were books added to the collection through more in-kind donations from Canada, but as well as purchasing books published in East Africa. Books purchased from local publishers are often more culturally relevant and are printed in the national language of Tanzania, Swahili.
This library will have an income generating internet cafe as part of its services with hopes that it will help create a self-sustainable library that does not depend on international aid for maintenance. Internet cafes are the most common access to the web in Tanzania and can be found very easily in major cities. The Chamazi community does not have any internet cafes near by. The community is very excited to soon have access to an internet cafe without having to travel the 25 kms to the city centre to find one.
In July 2009 Sarah hosted Kathy Yeo, a librarian from Vancouver, as well as Mona who is a children’s library technician from Vancouver. They volunteered at the Chamazi and Kwekitui libraries during their two week visit, repairing and cataloging books as well as mentoring our two wonderful librarians.
Please visit the ACTS Canada Helps page and clearly mark your donation “Chamazi Library”