Hawassa Reading Center is turning 10 this year and we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate Ethiopia Reads entire history! Today we look back at our first library, the Shola Library in Addis Ababa.
The beginnings were simple – the Shola Library was opened out of the first floor of the home of the ER’s first director in the Bekelo Bet district of Addis. The library was an immediate success, recording over 40,000 visits from young readers in the first year alone.
Ethiopia Reads’ founding mission was to bring books Ethiopian children who had hunger to read. The Shola Library was the first, and it opened the way toward founding more than 70 libraries around Ethiopia in the next 13 years. The Shola Library was more than just books on shelves. Volunteers taught language, art, drama and read aloud to the children. There was even a pilot program at Shola that allowed children to come on weekend mornings to bathe, cut their hair, and wash their clothes.
And throughout the years, Shola Library staff experimented with several different initiatives. The Golden Kuraz award was offered annually for the best book for children written in a local language, in hopes of encouraging more local publishing for children. ER then published ten bilingual books and held immensely popular book give-aways. A teacher-to-teacher sharing session was held in the summer of 2007 for teachers and librarians from the U.S. to learn about the working lives of Ethiopian educators and to share literacy approaches and skills.
Shola stayed open and vital for six years. It was a critical step for Ethiopia Reads in its journey toward becoming a model organization for delivering literacy services throughout Ethiopia.
As we celebrate different milestones this summer, please consider donating to our projects and contributing to another decade of celebrations. Your donations have been the key to our achievements – we could not have done this without you!