Elizabeth Bowers Memorial Library

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Beth’s Girls and village people celebrate Memorial Library Dedication.

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Memorial Library ready for “Hand-Over” from Beth to Lumwana West Village.

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Visiting dignitaries and speakers for Memorial Library dedication celebration.

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High Chief Sai’lunga visits Library.

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Beth’s photos welcome students to Memorial Library.

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Books by Zambian authors including Mr. Njolomba’s short stories Animals.

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Books in storage yet to be shelved.

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Librarian’s house under construction.

The dedication of the Elizabeth Bowers Memorial Library was celebrated in Lumwana West on July 9, 2009. The Library was initiated in 2006 as a collaboration with the community of Lumwana West, funded by EBZEF and managed by Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) Bob Wilder and Jessica Hillsley under the Peace Corps Partnership Program. Linda and Gerry Bowers visited Zambia for the occasion and were accompanied by Peace Corps representative Brother Mizhi Kakoma, PCV Stevie Greenwell, and Beth's Girl Prudence Masanyinga. The dedication marked the acceptance of the Library by the village in memory of Beth Bowers.

Dignitaries Speak at Dedication

Many tribal, Ministry of Education, and political dignitaries attended the dedication. Speeches and prayers were offered in both Lunda and English by the District Education Board Secretary, the Provincial Education Officer, the District Librarian, the District Commissioner, the area Member of Parliament, the Bowers, and the honorable High Chief Sai’lunga of the Lunda tribe. Mr. Mbongo Njolomba, Headmaster of Lumwana West Basic School, was both host and translator for the 4-hour presentation. The entire village attended, while Beth’s Girls offered songs and dances between the speeches. The village slaughtered a bull for the occasion.

Library Construction

The Library was built by the people of the village. They carried stones, sand, earth, and water far distances on their heads to mix cement; they made and burned the bricks, shaped roof beams, and constructed the building. The Memorial Library is beautiful both inside and out, including locally handmade shelves, tables, and chairs made of mukwa, a special hardwood from the NW area. The skylights offer clear light for study during the day. The walls above the bookcases hold large, smiling photos of Beth, as well as brightly colored laminated reading posters from the EBZEF Library Committee, and origami cranes sent by the students at Tokyo International University of America in Salem.

Solar panels were added in 2010, paid for by a $5,000 challenge grant that matched funds dollar-for-dollar from many generous donors. Under the direction of EBZEF volunteer/engineer Rob Rowlands, solar panels were installed on the library to power lights, laptop computers, printers, and other small electrical devices. People from the village were trained and now operate and maintain the system. The Memorial Library is the largest library in the region and has become a significant resource to the NW Province.

Book Collection

The shelves are laden with an impressive collection of new, up-to-date books donated and packed by Books For Africa, shipped by World Vision USA/Zambia, with transport fees paid by Caritas Charitable Trust. As the calligraphy on the side of the Library reads, “For All Your Academic & Professional Research.” Nurses from the Solwezi College of Nursing want to know why the health section is not at their college. The collection includes all disciplines and ranges from children’s books through high school and beyond. It includes books written about Zambia and by Zambian authors, including Mr. Njolomba’s first collection of short stories, Animals. Books have been catalogued by hand and by the use of Resource Mate computerized cataloging tools provided by EBZEF.

Light & Literacy Campaign

Thanks to the generous support and encouragement of donors, the primary source of solar power is the Elizabeth Bowers Memorial Library. It is encouraging literacy for the entire NW Province in Zambia and for all who use this extraordinary facility. Four laptop computers were installed in the Library and are being used by the village to full capacity. As soon as the lights came on, Beth's Girls began using the evening hours to do their schoolwork. The village headman, speaking at the Celebration of Light in Lumwana West, stated, "When people speak of us in the future, they will call us the literate village."

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Village Headman foresees village literacy

Lumwana West Librarian

After completeing her Library Science studies at the Zamtel Training College in 2010, Beth's Girl Sandra Kamulosu was hired as the Librarian for the Memorial Library, funded by EBZEF. She gave life to the Library by setting policies and cataloguing over 7,000 books. Sandra and her husband were married in 2012. She sees her wedding as a symbolic model for younger Beth's Girls to get an education first, choose a career, get married, and then have children.

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Sandra Kamulosu, Memorial Library Librarian

Early Childhood Literacy Program

After graduating from Solwezi College of Education, Beth’s Girl Dianah Masumbah started the new pre-school in Lumwana West with 25-30 eager students, both boys and girls. With a grant from the Columbia River Peace Corps Association, EBZEF hired Dianah from January-March 2011 to develop an Early Childhood Literacy Program. Dianah married and left Lumwana West, but Beth’s Girl Jean Mutepeka replaced her as the pre-school teacher. 

In 2014, an Early Childhood Education teacher, Beatrice Kabambi, was sent to the pre-school by the Zambia Ministry of Education. Jean Mutepeka is now Beatrice’s assistant. The program has strong support from the children’s parent group. Headmaster Njolomba says, “It has been very exciting to see those little kids, nicely dressed in their unique uniforms, doing things that others of their age have never been able to do here in Lumwana. The children are learning in both Lunda and English.” He goes on to say that rural students without pre-school are at a disadvantage throughout their education.

Pre-schools are not funded by the Zambia Ministry of Education and are usually non-existent in rural areas. EBZEF’s active Library Committee has raised money through garage sales, craft and bake sales, and generous donations to pay the pre-school teacher’s salary.

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Eager children ready for pre-school!

Schirle Elementary School Penny Drive

A “Penny Drive” was one of several fundraisers that the children of Schirle Elementary School in Salem, Oregon, held to donate to EBZEF. In 2014, students raised over $1,700 in pennies to purchase supplies for the pre-school children of Lumwana West including chairs, floor mats, play equipment, art supplies, and books. This is but one example of extraordinary children helping children on the other side of the world to get a head start on their education.

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Librarian Sandra with Penny Drive pre-school supplies

A Report on the 10 Year Partnership of EBZEF and Lumwana West

With EBZEF support, Tamara Weiss, a doctoral student from the University of Minnesota specializing in comparative international education, has visited Lumwana West twice to work with the pre-school teacher and curriculum and to make the Memorial Library more accessible to students and the community. Tamara, Michael Rhodes, and colleague Judith Merinyo from Tanzania, interviewed Beth’s Girls, graduates and early withdrawals from the scholarship program, and talked with many others throughout the community. She documented the ongoing contribution of the library, the growing support for the Lumwana West Preschool, and the marked progress in the establishment of a secondary school. These local initiatives appear to be having a positive impact on multiple generations. Please click HERE to view Tamara's Report.