Students at university might join a society for an array of reasons; because of a love of sports or literature, for friendship, or even simply for having something to do weekly on that Monday evening. But then there are societies that aim to do more. Ones concerned not solely with fulfilling only your ambitions, but those of a girl or a boy in Africa. Kent’s Books To Africa society are pursuing this mission through a fantastic effort at augmenting the state of education in Africa. At the same time increasing the gross national happiness of local communities, without a doubt.

Books To Africa was founded in 2012 by four university students: Tonson Sango (a then University of Kent student who started the society), Chumang Sango, Gideon Sango, and Precious N. Sango. It operates on the collection of donated books which are subsequently shipped to Africa with the goal of improving the quality of education. Their trip across native communities inspired its foundation when they were all appalled by the poor access to educational materials in the schools. Their project has since become a registered international society, alleviating the poignantly low state of education in many communities with having donated to several projects in West Africa, 3,000 donated to a military charity that provides 10,000 children with resources across ca. 75 military schools in Nigeria; in the East, 1,000 books were donated to a resource centre in urban Uganda, a community striving to improve literary through reading. These are brief examples of the great work the charity has contributed, yet they claim that ‘we still have a long way to go’. Indeed, despairing figures show the necessity of more work: 61 million in Africa leave school -if lucky to even attend- without the ability to read or write.

Their motto is: ‘Educating people, saving the environment.’ The charity prides itself on being eco-friendly and sustainable in their work as books that have become redundant in developed countries are donated and shipped to developing countries, giving unwanted books another life. It is fantastic to see a charity that heeds the needs of both the human and the natural world.

The Books to Africa society’s current president Omolade Adedapo has expressed how close to home the message of the charity hits for someone who has grown up in Nigeria and has understood the importance of education first hand. She says that ‘what makes you and I so different is opportunity and resources which some aren’t fortunate to have, so why not through the help of my committee and our amazing volunteers help to provide the same opportunity we enjoy on a daily basis’.

If you are interesting in becoming involved in the society, free memberships are available from the Kent Union. UKC Books to Africa meet every Monday at 6 PM (RLT2) for debates and discussion, and documentary screenings. You can become a volunteer in bucket collections which take place outside essentials at the end of every month, and during trips to the charity processing centre in Canterbury where donated books are sorted and packed for shipment to their new owners.

Photo: Books to Africa, University of Kent