Stephanie Czajkowski ’08 is currently completing the last few months of her Peace Corps service in Burkina Faso. While living and working as a volunteer in this small, land-locked West African country (one of the poorest nations in the world), her primary job is as a secondary school educator with special emphasis on girls’ empowerment and development; to that end, she has spent the past two years teaching math, science and English subjects to secondary school children.
In the fall, she sent e-mails to friends and family asking for support for her latest project, the construction of a library for the village. Since then, the local school has provided a building with the necessary space for the library, and Czajkowski reports she now needs to raise a little more than $5,000 to accomplish her goal of completing the library before her Peace Corps service ends in four months. The money will go to finishing construction on the building, providing furniture, books and lighting, materials for construction, and labor.
According to Libby Greene ’10, who recently spent two and a half weeks visiting Czajkowski in Burkina Faso, “a number of residents of the village have donated the equivalent of a week’s worth of pay to the library, each to see this project built. That is, people there get by on what is about $2 per day, and the average per-person donation from people in village has been about $12. Clearly, these people are doing everything they can to get this library going.”
Czajkowski undertook the library project because she saw the lack of a place for children of the village to study or work. Homes are small and lack quiet, private spaces in which to work and children aren’t allowed to use the school classrooms unless they are taking the class in session. Finding space and time to study is especially difficult for young girls who, upon returning home, are expected to help with chores such as cleaning, cooking and childcare. The proposed library, on the property with the school, would give kids a place of their own with lighting, where they could do their work, improve their literacy, and develop self-confidence and self-discipline while diligently applying themselves to their studies.
“The library would be a message to these kids that they and their educational aspirations are important and to be taken seriously,” explains Greene.
Donations can be made online [https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=686-136]. All contributions are tax deductible, and all go directly into the project.