Caroline Vandriel poses for a photo with a teacher from the community school in Ogooma, Uganda, Africa at the school’s new library. Photos courtesy of T.O.U.C.H Ministries’ Facebook

Sylvan Lake woman spreads love of reading to Africa

Library Director Caroline Vandriel recently returned from Uganda where she helped build a library

Sylvan Lake’s Caroline Vandriel recently spent some time spreading her passion for reading and libraries in Uganda, Africa.

Vandriel was part of a small group of about 20 Canadians who travelled to Uganda with T.O.U.C.H. Ministries. There the group worked on updating the school and providing health care to a small community in the eastern part of the country.

Vandriel spent her time preparing the library to be open when the next semester of school started up again.

“The library was built and there were shelves already… so we were cataloguing the books and putting everything in order,” Vandriel said.

She added the shelves that were built were a little rickety, and swayed with a light touch without any books stacked on them.

Vandriel said she worked with a few others to set up the library and to train the teachers at the school how to run it.

While cataloguing, they worked in a small room with tables full of books that needed to be prepared for the library.

“The kids were fascinated… They would stand outside and watch us through the window,” said Vandriel.

Many of the books in the library are for the classrooms. Vandriel said the teacher preferred having the textbooks come from the library when needed.

Though she didn’t think most kids would be interested in reading textbooks, she said she was shocked by how much they wanted to read.

“I saw kids just pick up a random book from a basket and sit down to read. These are books that I never expected any kid to want to read just because.”

Vandriel said the want and love of reading in the small community of Ogooma, Uganda was surprising.

While she was there, Vandriel held two read-a-longs for the school and community. The results blew her away.

Each session had more kids present than she ever expected. The largest had around 400 kids listening to her read a story.

“It was in a classroom about the size of our program room, and it was jam-packed. There were kids sitting in each other’s laps and anywhere there was remotely any space,” she said.

The trip to Uganda opened her eyes to how good life is at home.

One of her favourite parts of the trip was having a hot shower with steady water pressure. She said it showed her how much is taken for granted.

“I used to think our library here was small, but now it feels gigantic.”

Her trip ended before the library was fully completed. However, she said specific instructions were given to the teachers who are now running the library at the school, as well as her contact information if they run into any problems.

She hopes to return to the school in the future to see how the library has progressed.

T.O.U.C.H. Ministries is run out of the Alliance Church, and anyone interested in supporting the Ogooma, Uganada Children’s Home can make donations through the Sylvan Lake Alliance Church.

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