Kingsport woman raising money to buy books for school in Tanzania

Holly Viers • Aug 12, 2018 at 10:30 AM

KINGSPORT — In the U.S., it’s hard to imagine an English classroom with no books.

At a primary school in the small village of Engaruka, Tanzania, though, that’s a daily reality. The 1,200 students who attend the school have little to no exposure to books, which makes learning English exceedingly difficult.

That’s where Kingsport resident Amy Collette is stepping in. Collette, who attends Waverly Road Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, hopes to raise $10,000 in the next few weeks to stock a library at the school.

“Just for exposure to worlds that they aren’t familiar with and empowering them and giving them so many more opportunities provided through a book, I just think it’s incredibly important,” Collette said. “We provide that opportunity to our children, so why are these kids any different?”

Uncovering the need

Collette first learned about the need in Tanzania after seven members of her church took a mission trip to the village. Collette’s mother was part of that group, and while she was there, she noticed the schoolchildren were fascinated by a children’s book she had read in one of the classrooms.

“There’s like 100 kids to a class, and they were standing on their desks to just get a glimpse of pictures in the book that she was reading,” Collette said. “It just kind of hit me that we have to do something.”

Collette, who works as a consultant at Usborne Books and More, reached out to Karah Germroth, a Kingsport native and founder of Moyo wa Afrika. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the organization assists with the development of remote villages throughout Tanzania.

Germroth said a book drive fundraiser was much needed for the school. So Collette and others got to work on making it happen.

The fundraiser begins

Collette said she planned to kick off the fundraiser officially on Friday. Her goal is to raise $10,000 by Aug. 25. She will then use the funds to purchase specific books on the school’s wish list.

At that point, she plans to ship the books directly to the school.

“It’s very locally based, with Waverly Road going, and Karah, she lives there but she’s from Kingsport,” Collette said. “There’s just a lot of Kingsport roots to it, so I think it’s important.”

How you can help

Collette is focused on raising money for the books, but she added that she’ll also need donations to cover shipping costs. Her employer will match 50 percent of the donations that are received.

Donations can be made online at www.givinggrid.com/bookschangelives. Checks can also be mailed to Moyo wa Afrika, 1974 Cooks Valley Road, Kingsport, TN 37664, with “book drive” written on the memo line.

For more information or to read updates on the fundraiser’s progress, visit www.facebook.com/moyowaafrika.