Making sure that Zimbabwe reads: from Boston via Beira to Harare

02 Feb 2012
Allen Chimombe of Restore helped bring the books and his organization will be using part of the shipment in their work with juvenile offenders

Today our container, the first since Zimbabwe reads partnered with the Boston-based  Sabre Foundation, arrived in Harare. After crossing the Atlantic (and before that, a chunk of a highway from the Sabre warehouse in Boston to the New York City docks in late October 2011), and traversing a bit of the Indian Ocean along the South African coastline,  58,000 books donated by American publishers and individual friends of Zimbabwe reached African soil in Mozambique.

Zimbabwe Reads-Sabre shipment of 58,000 books waiting to be unloaded in central Harare

From there, crossing into Zimbabwe at Beira, a Mozambican driver (a Tete native, well-conversant in Shona, by the way), Senhor Tiberio (see group photo at the bottom, far right), brought the container to Harare. The Rotary Club in central part of Zimbabwean capital was kind to offer us their premises to store the books, as the container needed to be emptied to avoid extra costs.

It took two and a half hours for a team of local workforce and friends of ours to unload the container. Our project manager Andy Kozlov joined them to speed up the process, document the event and pocket some details of palette packaging for future generations along the way – Andy said that the historian in him wants to preserve at least a piece of paper numbering the palettes. And appealing to the philosopher in him, Andy compared the slashing through the plastic wrapping to cutting the umbilical cord of the culture of reading that our shipment aims to foster in Zimbabwe’s youth.

The whole shipping process from Boston to Harare was facilitated and closely monitored by our Harare-based partner organization Restore that works with the capital’s street children and youth delinquents. Restore’s head Allen Chimombe also did some stretching today hauling the boxes with us, and they will be using part of the books in their reading programs.

The largest part of the shipment is 40,000 primary school science booklets provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. These colorful graded

Zimbabwe reads' Andy Kozlov (far left) compared unloading this container to cutting the 'umbilical cord' of Zimbabwe's reading culture

readers, as well as 10,000 McGraw-Hill primary and secondary school books, will be distributed in the Harare and Bulawayo areas by the regional committees there as well as to the Catholic school network of almost 200 schools. A group of nursing schools will receive 370 specialized nursing books. The shipment also includes 30 boxes of fiction and 20 boxes of academic books in the humanities from Harvard University Press that are being distributed to the University of Zimbabwe and hard-hit tertiary institutions.