Despite running a highly successful courier business in Nairobi, entrepreneur Eunice Njoki has been channeling some of her resources into the development of modern libraries in Kenya’s rural areas.
“When I was growing up, I had a burning desire to go to school and become a medical doctor. However I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school when my peers did,” she told Bizna Kenya. “It took deliberate intensions to acquire knowledge from the slightest of the opportunities that came my way.”
Ms. Njoki would pour herself into whatever books she came across regardless of the subject or class that they covered. “I also read loads of magazine, novels and newspapers whenever I came across any. This helped me grow until I enrolled for my high school classes,” she says.
This thirst for knowledge cultivated a desire for education and a passion to help others access knowledge. “A few years after completing my education and venturing into entrepreneurship successfully, I began to contemplate on how I would give back to my society through education. I always felt that there was a young girl or boy back in the village with immense potential but hindered by the same limitations that I faced,” she says.
Njoki decided to start setting up libraries in rural areas in the country. This way, she says, she would be able to offer a service that would transcend time. “I launched a foundation known as Maktaba Mashinani Foundation (MMF) to provide books and academic opportunities and exposure within and beyond the current curriculum.”
With the immensity of carrying out such an ambitious project, Njoki has enlisted the help of a friend to help map out and execute the project. “One of my friends and expert in rural development, Elijah Ngocho has been a major helping hand with the project,” she says.
Currently, Njoki is sourcing out funds, books and materials for her inaugural modern library in Nyandarua County. “We intend to have at least one modern library per county in Kenya fully equipped with a usual reading area, a virtual library, an indoor games area, visual learning facility, place and material for some artistic learning,” says Njoki. “We are fundraising for these projects and looking for individuals and organizations we can partner with.”
Njoki says that as the new curriculum is launched in the country, the need for libraries, reading facilities and extracurricular learning facilities remain in need. “A huge percentage of the rural communities have never seen the inside of a library or used the internet. This includes teachers in some of the institutions. This is what Maktaba Mashinani is looking to address as well as establish an effective mentorship programs across the country to see that the learners are equipped all round.”
Additionally, Maktba Mashinani is looking for well-wishers, donors and partners in cash and kind globally. It requires donations of cash, books, computer hardware and software, and internet provisions. “I believe that this is not in vain. These projects will be of help to many generations and will help curb illiteracy. It takes one generation to make another,” Njoki says with conviction.