Why I sponsor Books2Africa: Tessa Boase, Author and University of Oxford Alumna

Following her completion of an English Literature degree, regular Books2Africa donor Tessa Boase (pictured above) has developed an acclaimed literary career, exposing previously unheard social histories. Having a direct lineage to African countries – her father and grandfather lived and worked there for much of their lives – her work largely concerns the problems posed by Western colonialism. Her most recent pursuit, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism – Women’s Fight for Change, showcases the establishment of the RSPB in Britain, and its links to women’s and animal rights. Earlier this year, we caught up with her to chat about her generosity towards Books2Africa, and the reasons behind it.

What are your motivations for getting involved with Books2Africa? Do you have any personal connections with Africa?

“Yes, my father (below) is from East Africa – Kampala he was born – he lived and worked in Uganda and Kenya for half of his life, and I still have relatives living in East Africa. I probably shouldn’t tell you [what kind of job he did] because it was a long time ago, and people don’t like to hear about white hunters now! He was an engineer – that’s what he also did. My grandfather was an eye doctor of Kampala Hospital and of Nairobi Hospital. I have been [to Africa] with my father a few times. I have an aunt who’s a headmistress of a girls’ school in Uganda, and she’s always trying to do fundraising there.”

Tessa’s Dad

Wow, so you must know a lot about the need for education in Africa?

“Absolutely. Yes, I’ve seen it first-hand; I’ve visited schools around the Masai Mara, and seen the conditions of the classrooms, and what kind of textbooks they’re trying to work with, but also the incredible positivity, which is incredibly moving.”

In what ways do you think educating children in the UK about the lack of resources available to African children is valuable?

“I think it is valuable – particularly to show them the value of what they have in the UK. Children are so blasé – they don’t understand how lucky they are; they don’t understand that in some countries, you’re so lucky if you’re able to go to school; if your parents can afford a pencil for you, or a uniform; how willing children are to learn in some parts of the world – how diligent and obedient they are. I think showing the differences, particularly at primary school level, really opens their eyes.”

Do you believe that education can help more children to rise out of poverty in Africa?

“That is a huge question, isn’t it? Because on the one hand, education makes children perhaps dissatisfied with the village life, and dissatisfied with their homelife, and that can cause difficulties if there are no job opportunities for them. But on the other hand, you can’t deny them education, and I think particularly in terms of conservation, education is really key – understanding the value of what they have in their country and seeing how the future can be safeguarded.”

It’s a bit of a paradox isn’t it, because on the one hand you want them to value where they are, and on the other hand you want them to aspire to be something more.

“I think it is a difficult paradox. Cities in Africa are full of people who have gone there hoping for opportunity and have not found it. Really harrowing sights, you see. The world is changing so fast, but to give African people a say in their country is just incredibly important. And if democracy is going to prevail – another reason why it’s really important – we don’t want another Mugabe.”

Books2Africa are proud to keep thousands of books from going to landfill each year. Does conserving the environment serve a role in your support of the charity?

“Yes, I’d feel so terribly sorry if these books, which are such wonderful things, ended up in landfill as if they were rubbish. Good books are to be treasured. I can’t bear to see books being treated like rubbish, so I wanted to find a more meaningful life for them.”

So in your opinion, what is the most important part of the charity and its work?

“It’s not just dumping a box of charitable leftovers – you’re providing a specific, thoughtful service, which is great. Also, we have so many books here, and I don’t like just taking them to a charity shop, where they’re just sitting in a box – we’ve got a surplus of books, and it’s really nice for them to go where they really will be appreciated, and pored over, and will inform young minds.”

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates

A quick update about what Books2Africa is doing in response to these uncertain times caused by the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our top priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and supporters. Key to this is following government recommendations closely. Thankfully no suspected cases of COVID-19 have been reported amongst our staff and volunteers. Our Processing Centre in Canterbury is still operational and well stocked with the enough books and resources to ship to Africa.

Please read our updates below on steps taken to minimise the risk to staff, volunteers and supporters.

  • Public Book Collections Suspended: Effective today, we are suspending our collection service for book donations by members of the public in the UK. Although this will affect our book donation numbers, it would reduce the workload on our paid staff who continue to work during this difficult period to ensure the charity remains operational. This will be reviewed at the end of Easter on 14th April 2020.

  • Warehouse Volunteering Suspended: Effective today, we are suspending all volunteering work at the Processing Centre in Canterbury. This means all our UK and International Volunteers are no longer allowed to come into the Canterbury site. Although this will affect our processing and sorting capacity, it makes it easier for us to enforce government advise on social distancing and minimise the risk to paid staff who continue to work normal hours, ensuring our charity shop remains operational and shipments to Africa are dispatched. This will be reviewed at the end of Easter on 14th April 2020.

  • Online Volunteering: During this suspension of warehouse volunteering, we will be assigning all our volunteers to our Education Team to work on a variety of fundraising tasks online. To this end, all our International Volunteers are required to attend an online Skype meeting with our Director of Education on Wednesday 25th March at 9:30 am. UK volunteers who would like to join in can also email [email protected] to indicate their interest in order to receive further instructions on joining the meeting.

 

 
Finally a word of encouragement – Do not be afraid, stay safe and continue to have faith that this will soon pass. 
  • The strictest hygiene standards are being followed at our Processing Centre, with hand sanitisers, disinfectant sprays, plastic gloves and posters reminding staff, volunteers and supporters to wash their hands regularly and wipe their work surfaces.

 

  • No contact deliveries: Couriers delivering boxes to the Processing Centre will no longer require you to sign by hand on delivery. Rather, they are advised to enter your initials.

 

  • Drop-offs and tours suspended: From next week, drop-off appointments by members of the public will be suspended until further notice. Until then, staff and volunteers are advised to receive deliveries without contact and avoid giving members of the public tours of the Processing Centre.

 

We appreciate your understanding as the situation evolves and reassure you that we will take necessary steps to ensure your safety whilst trying to also fulfil our charitable objectives. If you need any support or advice, you can send us an email [email protected]

Thank you for your continued support and do subscribe to our coronavirus updates if you want to be remain updated.
Books2Africa UK Team

Shipping and delivering 1 million books every year
involves the following:

Volume
  • 20,000 books fit in 1 x 20ft container
  • 1,000,000 books fit in 50 x 20ft containers
  • 4 x 20ft containers shipped monthly
Costs
  • £5,000 to process, ship and clear each container of 20,000 books
  • £20,000 delivers 4 containers monthly
Fundraising Target
  • 2,000 individuals giving £10 or more monthly, or 50 corporate partners sponsoring 1 container per year. Thank you.

30%

Processing in the UK

30%

Freight from the UK

40%

Clearing and haulage in Africa

Books2Africa is a UK registered charity number 1152599