Ngombe Township Reading Center in Lusaka, Zambia
Ngombe Township Reading Center in Lusaka, Zambia was established in 2006 through the efforts of several organizations and people in the USA who wanted to make a difference in this world. The reading center containing over two thousand books is open to all who enter. It is the only center like this in the township which has a population of over three thousand poverty-stricken residents. Students arrive at the center after school to receive mentoring for their studies. Story hours are in place for young children. Adults use this center as well. Good Shepherd School, which is housed at the reading center, opened its doors in January of 2012. Good Shepherd School stands out from other schools in the area because of the number and quality of books available to students. The center recently attained NGO status due in large part to the outstanding dedication and leadership of the reading center’s director.
How It Happened….
By Jeanne Niebel, retired elementary school teacher in Maryland
It is interesting how small libraries begin. In 1999 my son, a Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State, brought his family’s Zambian nanny back to Maryland when he and family returned from a tour in Zambia. At the time I was teaching third grade. Our social studies unit was about African culture. Mary became “my” professor sharing her Zambian culture and history which I shared with my students. Eventually we became like sisters.
I was able to go to Zambia to visit Mary and her family in January 2004. Never had I seen such poverty. Most of the mud bricked homes had no electricity, running water or books. Many children were not in school because they had no money for school fees. Jobs were very scarce. At the same time I was inspired by the Zambians’ work ethic and their joy in the little things in life.
My Maryland friends wanted to hear about my trip. Their question was always how could they help. I was at a loss because the need was so great. It was only when someone asked if she could sponsor the education of a Zambian child who was not able to attend school that I realized this is where we could start. An educational sponsorship program was started immediately.
Over seventy children have or are currently attending school due to this sponsorship program. This program led to people sending hundreds of books to our sponsored students, which led to building the large Ngombe Township Reading Center to house all the books, which led to starting Good Shepherd School. My “sister” Mary and her family have been a major part of this project.