Two teenage sister duos are making a difference in Africa by distributing 60,000 books to Ghana and Nigeria. Now, the four girls have their sights set on the French-speaking nation of Togo.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nigerian sisters Azzarree and Amirrah Uwhubetine, who are 17 and 16 respectively, were for years regularly using iBooks or depending on family members traveling abroad to bring books back for them, citing the African nation’s lack of big-box stores, easy library access or Amazon delivery. In 2016, the sisters and their families relocated to Atlanta.
“When I came here, Barnes & Noble was like a culture shock,” said Azzarree, The AJC reported. “I had never seen so many books in one place.”
This photo shows students at The Alice Abrokwa Appiah Library in Kukurantumi, Ghana, with books from the Child2Child Book Foundation. Through the organization Books for Africa, a pair of African sisters now living in the U.S. have sent more than 60,000 books to Ghana and Nigeria. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube.com/Child2Child Book Foundation)
Shortly after, their friends Sedinam and Eline Asase, two sisters from Ghana, migrated stateside to Washington, D.C.
The four girls, who were classmates at a Nigerian private school, remained close and eventually started a book club. They thought about the children in Africa and how challenging it was to have books to ensure a well-rounded education.
Sedinam, 16, said books there are frequently outdated, and one classroom may have 30 to 40 students relying on a single text.
“We realized if it was hard for us to get these books, it was harder for people in underserved communities to get that access,” said Amirrah, according to The AJC. “Even though we were really young, we still wanted to make that change.”
The girls established the Child2Child Book Foundation in 2019 and began raising funds to ship books to Africa. They joined forces with the Minnesota-based nonprofit Books for Africa, which runs a book storage and shipping business out of Marietta, Georgia.
For the shipments — which can cost about $10,000 for enough books to fill a tractor-trailer — Child2Child has raised more than $64,000. So far, the girls have distributed more than 60,000 school textbooks, well-known children’s literature books, and novels for all grade levels.
Azzarree praised the books’ high quality, pointing out that they didn’t have torn pages covered in notes or damaged binding.
“We want to have kids excited about learning,” she said, according to The AJC, “and excited about their education.”
The girls have traveled to schools in Ghana and Nigeria that use the books they’ve sent, supervising the students’ creative projects and reading aloud to them. They created a community library named after the Asase sisters’ great-grandmother during their trip to Ghana last summer.
Amirrah said meeting the youngsters allows them to interact and relay their love of reading with them one-on-one.
“Everybody is extremely grateful,” she shared, according to AJC. “Parents and students are excited about getting these books and having access to books with a fully-stocked library.”
Child2Child also collaborates with several African nonprofit organizations operating in communities and schools — groups that make book requests and ensure students read them.
The girls maintain their nonprofit with help from GoFundMe and are hoping to secure corporate sponsors and grants. Although Azzarree and Sedinam will head to college in the fall, they have no plans to halt Child2Child’s shipments.
“As someone who is such a big reader, I’m so passionate about how important books are for our society,” said Azzarree, The AJC reported. “The perspective you get from reading books and discussing books is so amazing and important.”
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