At a warehouse in St. Paul, African leaders from 15 different countries are packing and sorting books for Africa.
Karim Garboe is from The Gambia, and explained how important this is on his home continent.
“The best way to empower the community, the best way to empower Africa, the best way to make sure that Africa realizes its potential, is to continue its education,” says Garboe. “One of the most important institutions is continuing with books for Africa.”
Despite supply chain struggles, Books for Africa says it has shipped over three million books this fiscal year. The nonprofit is also shipping computers and tablets.
Garboe grew up in rural Gambia and says he never had a library growing up.
“This is what Books for Africa is doing, changing lives,” says an impassioned Garboe. “So if anyone wants to continue they can do it through Books from Africa. I want a community library. But I don’t have the money. I don’t have the finances.”
The group is part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. They are attending a six-week leadership institute at the University of Minnesota, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, and hosted by the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (part of the College of Education and Human Development) in partnership with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Their service is in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela International Day which is Monday, July 18. The day is named for the late South African leader and dedicated to service in his honor.
Books for Africa remains the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent, shipping over 54 million books to all 55 countries on the African continent since 1988.