The materials inside a library in Malawi, Africa, created by Watertown’s Malawi Early Literacy Team, were destroyed by protesters last week.
The team develops and publishes kindergarten through second grade early literacy books with phrasing, references and themes understood in the children’s cultures. Two to four team members then deliver the books — this year 5,000 — to Malawi annually and lead a five-day intensive training for teachers from 15 Malawian schools.
Team Leader Heather F. White said the library’s attack was part of a protest aimed at the building’s owner and politician, Grace Chiumia. Though the building remains intact and no one was injured, many of the educational materials have been compromised.
Ms. White said more than 5,000 early readers, book bins, book bags, shelving, racks, tables and other items have been destroyed.
“Having just returned three weeks ago from an extremely successful trip ... this is disheartening,” Ms. White said.
Moving forward, Ms. White said the team is focused on what remains in the library: the six new library shelves were untouched, 1,200 of the books were out in schools, 400 books were still on their way to the library, fluency kits are in classrooms, and the team’s vehicle is still running.
“MELT will not allow the acts of a few to stop our good work for 20 schools, over 40 teachers and a circulation of 40,000 books annually,” Ms. White said.
For more information or options to help, visit www.rebuildreprint.cheddarup.com.