It’s not always easy for people in rural Zimbabwe to visit a library, so Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program (RLRDP) brings the library to them. Donkeys power their mobile libraries that can carry around 1,200 books. Out of the organization’s 15 donkey cart libraries, three are outfitted with solar panels that can power a computer.
RLRDP founder Obadiah Moyo designed the donkey cart libraries and began trotting them out in 1995. The two-wheeled, roofed carts can carry up to three riders, and are separated into compartments that can lock up. Three donkey libraries have electricity from solar power for charging phones, printing, and accessing the Internet on a computer. The carts serve more than 1,600 people apiece, stopping at schools or community sites. 12 of the mobile libraries are devoted to children’s books. The organization has also facilitated 120 book delivery bicycles.
Moyo said school pass rates have greatly improved since mobile libraries started bringing the books to rural areas. In a blog post for Book Aid International, he said O-Level pass rates at Inyathi Secondary School, that RLRDP supports, were six percent in 2009, but last year were 75 percent.
Moyo said in the blog post, “We believe that to pull these rural communities out of poverty we need to surround children with books and knowledge, and give them the tools they need to improve their lives.”
Financial contributions are often most helpful for RLRDP – Moyo says it costs around $150,000 a year to operate the organization. Books mainly come from charity Book Aid International, and RLRDP can get discounts from publishers. The organization would like to stock their donkey-powered libraries with more books written by Zimbabwean authors, especially ones in the languages of Ndebele or Shona.