Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pilot blog

Hello world!

This blog was created as a means of keeping track of a Project: Comic Book Library, Destination: Rwanda. Okay, so we need to work on the title.

Here's how this all got started. My beloved best friend Jenn, unable to sit still while the rest of the world is busy imploding and kicking each other in the shins or worse, applied to the Peace Corps. Conveniently, she got assigned to work on English education in a country that had already imploded as much as it could in the decade prior and was working on rebuilding in such a way that people would stop kicking each other in the shins. In other words, she got sent to Rwanda.

Rwanda is a fascinating place. The 1994 genocide left 800k+ people dead, and has spent the last decade in recovery. Half the population is under 18. Over half the legislature (and the population, thanks to the genocide) is female. It's considered to have one of the most honest and reputable governments in Africa, and is a model for developing nations.

Jenn got sent to teach English in Rwanda shortly after the government decided to change the national language from French to English. In her own words:

"The change will go into effect this coming school year, and this ambitious undertaking is an important part of achieving President Paul Kagame's vision for Rwanda. As education volunteers, my colleagues and I are challenged with helping Rwandans ease into such an abrupt transition. One project integral to facilitating the change is the establishment of libraries throughout the country. This particular project, however, has proven especially difficult because high tariffs mean that books are very expensive in Rwanda. The result is that Rwandans discourage students from using the resources out of concern for the depreciation of their value, or try to sell the books in order to fund other important projects.

"My solution is that we establish comic book collections to supplement libraries and support our colleagues in their endeavor. Comic books are ideal because they can be inexpensive, contain accessible language and content, and are easy to ship in bulk. Plus, it's just unacceptable that twelve year-old Dominick in Mulindi can't tell me who his favorite superhero is, or that he hasn't even heard of Superman, Batman, or Spiderman!"

At Jenn's request, we've taken it upon ourselves to start a large-scale comic book donation drive, so we can contribute to the education of thousands of Rwandan children. This is the first step; others will surely follow.

Any developments will be posted up here, as will our strategy for moving forward on this project. I've found that the most important thing here is communication and brainstorming, so hopefully this will help facilitate that.

Jenn's blog also will have periodic updates from her end of things, in addition to great stories about her experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Which is really just a fancy name for a humanitarian badass.

Love to you all!