Strengthening the Nyarushanje Community Library and Empowerment Center

Nyarushanje Community Library and Empowerment Center  was set up by PELI-U in 2013 with support from MISEREOR Germany. The library and empowerment center serves as a one stop point  through which children, youth and community members access information, education services, vocational skills training, sexual reproductive health education and linkage to health service providers.

Ongoing  initiatives under Nyarushanje Community library and empowerment center include:

Library Scholar Reading Program 2019-2020

This a one year project under implementation by PeerLink Initiative Uganda (PELI-U) in four parishes (Bwanga, Nyabushenyi, Kisiizi and Ibanda), Nyarushanje Subcounty, Rubabo County, Rukungiri District. The project is supported by Pace Able Foundation. The project targets parents/care takers, primary school pupils, school administration and management and teachers. The goal of the program is to promote a culture of literacy  in households, schools and communities.

Project activities include weekly household based reading sessions, provision of reading materials and promoting household improvement activities (hygine and sanitation). The school based activities include provision of a reading scholarship to 20 primary school pupils selected from primary 2, engaging school stakeholders in dialogue over literacy promotion, guiding schools on setting up functional libraries/reading spaces and encouraging schools to put in place a supportive environment for reading.

School outreaches

Under this PELI-U is working with 14 community based primary schools to implement school based reading promotion activities. These include lobbying and advocating for inclusion of a weekly reading hour in the school schedules with school administration and management, providing reading materials, working with teachers to facilitate the reading hour, coordinating spell bee competitions, revolving book bank activity and stakeholder capacity building on reading promotion and improvement in schools.

Early Child Care and Development (ECCD)

ECCD initiatives focus on education activities that target 2-8 year old children aiming at reaching out to them during the stage of growth where children are highly influenced by the environment and the people that surround them. We will focus on activities that aim at holistic development of children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs. These activities include but are not limited to drawing and painting, music dancing and singing, blocks, jigsaws, running, jumping, climbing and swinging, basic board games.

Read and Play Children’s Activity

This is a weekend reading program for children aged 3–10 held on Saturday afternoon. It entails engaging children in a reading hour held in the children’s library where children read silently individually. After the reading the library facilitators engage the children in a reflection session where the children share their experiences and lessons. Then the children are taken through another hour of play where they are taken through different games and sports ( football, volleyball, playing with toys, legos, sack race, face painting, tag of war, hoop rope, swings, bouncing castle).

Read and Dance Children’s Activity

This is a weekend readingprogram forchildren aged 3 – 10 held on Sunday afternoon. It entails engaging children in a reading hour held in the children’s library where children read silently individually. After the reading the library facilitators engage the children in a reflection session where the children share their experiences and lessons. Then the children are taken through another hour of dance where they are taken through African indigenous dance,  twist, waltz and hip-hop.

Early Child Care and development (ECCD) day

This day brings together children aged 2-8 and their parents/care takers. They engage in a wide range of social interaction activities (play, dance, story- telling, reading, parenting skills sessions for parents).

Satellite Libraries

There are 8 parish/community based satellite libraries ( Kisiizi, Bwanga, Nyabushenyi, Bunono, Burora, Ihunga, Ndago and Ruyonza in Nyarushanje Subcounty. These libraries  are linked to PeerLink Initiative Uganda’s (PELI-U)’s main library Nyarushanje Community Library and Empowerment Center a one stop point that provides holistic services in the field of education, health and socio economic empowerment to Nyarushanje Subcounty community members. The idea of starting satellite libraries was derived out of distant community members’  desire  to access library services offered by Nyarushanje community library and empowerment center.

The community members donated space in each community setting  (parish) and had community members volunteering as staff (community based library volunteer coordinators). The community based volunteer library coordinators identify library space, operate the day to day activities of the library, participate in monthly library meetings for coordinators, publicise library activities in their respective communities and lobby and advocate for a reading hour in their respective community schools’ schedule once a week.  Through the satellite libraries children, youth and community members from the 8 parishes of Nyarushanje Subcounty access reading materials and other services offered by PELI-U.

Cultural Library Unit

Through the cultural library unit Uganda and  Kigezi region indigenous cultural artefacts are collected, documented and preserved for future use. Other cultural related activities such as around the fire sessions, elder-children dialogue sessions and an  annual cultural gala are organized. During the cultural gala community members exhibit different indigenous cultural foods, cold and hot beverages, seeds, herbs and medicine, dressing code, music, dance and drama,  household utensils, proverbs, riddles and fold tales. The aim of the cultural library unit activities is to preserve indigenous culture for future generations.

Youth Corner Unit

This unit was set up by in and out of school youth as a space in the library through which the youth can access sexual reproductive health information and engage in dialogue session on the challenges of growth and development that they face. Through this section the youth access information on menstruation and menstrual hygiene, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and existing support structure and referral pathways.

Candidates Days

These are four days (2 days in May holiday and 2 days in September holiday) organised during school holidays that bring together learners in primary and secondary pre-candidate and final year (primary six & seven, senior 3 & 4 and senior 5 & 6) to learn collectively and prepare for final exams. The students converge at Nyarushanje  community library and empowerment center and some of the satellite libraries.

On this day candidates interact with different subject teacher  facilitators who guide them on how to prepare for the final exams.  They also access reading materials and interact with students from different schools sharing  notes, tips  and experiences.

Information Communication Technology (ICT) resource unit

Through the ICT resource unit students, teachers and out of school youth skills development trainees are equipped with computer literacy skills, access internet and link and coordinate with other students and teachers.  We work with primary school teachers to type their notes and turn their subject content notes from handwritten to soft copy materials.

We then print and share the materials with children in households utilizing the community libraries structure. The teachers are also trained in the use of participatory learner centered methods of teaching and learning. Students and out of school youth are trained on how to integrate ICT in their day to day lives (writing curriculum vitaes, letter writing, application writing, presentation, participating in zoom meetings, sending emails etc).