The year’s activities offered by the library in Gwanda began like any other: busy, busy, busy
· In January we delivered book boxes to our 27 rural schools
· In February we launched story books in the SeSotho language and distributed them to all the schools where SeSotho is the first language. The books were translated by local teachers and printed in Zimbabwe, thanks to the sponsorship of a Swedish benefactor of the library
· In early March we launched a partnership with Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) a regional NGO, through which they will establish an information hub in the library. Thirty journalists attended an event in the library to celebrate this joint project
· Later in March we received more than 40 boxes of books from Book Aid International. The library is expecting two more shipments shortly. One shipment will contain medical texts for use by students in various training programmes at Gwanda Provincial Hospital
And, then, COVID 19 arrived in Zimbabwe
And here are the consequences:
· We were able to retrieve the Book Boxes from the schools before Maarch 30th when government shut down the country
· All schools closed, and we were required to close the library.
· Sadly the library has no capacity to offer online resources, as has been done in Canada. Our users would, in any case, have no capacity to make use of them. Children and adults alike will have to go through the lockdown without the benefit of books provided by Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library and Community Libraries.
· For our library staff who cannot come to work there is no wage support from the Zimbabwe government. We must keep paying our staff so that they can survive. As it was, the staff were struggling in the face of high inflation (600% annually) and severe drought.
We are ready to resume operations as soon as we are allowed. These children and many others will be ready to fill the library to overflowing again.