Donate Now
Breaking the cycle of poverty


You might also like...

Help Us To Build a Nasio Library For All

Nasio as a charity provides support through education to children from the age of three but without a library, children have no access to books they can read for pleasure to help stretch their imagination and inspire them!

Find Out More

Libraries Give People Their Voices by Katie Isbester
August 2023

In 1979 there was a revolution in Nicaragua. I pitched up there in 1984, young and dumb, wide-eyed and curious. In the intervening years, the new government had created a literacy campaign with the literate teaching basic literacy to others. The Literacy Campaign was so successful that UNESCO awarded Nicaragua with a prize.

It’s not clear what percentage of the population was illiterate. Undoubtedly the rural areas were substantially more illiterate than the urban, the indigenous Suma, Rama and Misquito more illiterate than the Spanish metizos, and women more illiterate than men. Figures up to 75% rural illiteracy were quoted but in truth, no one really knows. It was an unexamined populace. But it’s safe to say that illiteracy was a big problem.

Literacy doesn’t just permit someone to follow written instructions, raising productivity. That’s the least of what it does. By learning how to sound out words and the concepts that they embody, readers reach for understanding. This act is not rote, like the dull repetition of peculiar spellings. At its best, literacy enables the reader to name their own reality.

It’s counterintuitive really. Reading is a silent act. Yet, reading is integral to dignity, visibility and equality. Reading gives the reader a voice.

It all sounds rather fabulous, doesn’t it. Sadly, creating literacy was not quite as simple as sending literate city youths to the dispossessed countryside to teach the yokels their ABCs. Where I was teaching in a remote rural village, the celebrated new literacy had already faded. Without the reinforcements of on-going schooling and easy access to the written word, this extraordinary accomplishment had stalled and illiteracy surged back.

One day there was knock at the door and a young teacher popped her head in. She wanted to build a library. With books. Just to read. For everyone. To support what literacy we were building through the school but also, just because. I must have gaped at her, mouth dropping open. Electricity wasn’t reliable. Sewage ran in the streets. Students didn’t have pencils and paper. You couldn’t even assume that there’d be food in the market, should you have the money to buy it. Building a library was insanely ambitious.

Nonetheless, this small community found a room. A huge mural was painted, bright and inviting, celebrating the gift of books. And I trotted off to the capital to buy books on my own penny. The few copies I could find were added to by distant fundraisers until it became a flood of books.

The library became wildly popular. Kids played in it after school. Mothers went there for information and relaxation. Adults borrowed books to ease their down time. The library was part of the tour when foreign donors came, gaining the community a little more money. More importantly, literacy rates grew and this time, held. Supported by a library. Now the literacy rates for both men and women are up over 80%. Honestly, it puts a smile on my face every time I think of it.

If a reader has a voice, then a library has a choir, helping everyone to sing in harmony.

Please support Nasio’s appeal to build the first community library in Mumias West so that we can improve literacy rates and spread the joy that reading brings.

This story is listed in: Fund-raiser stories, Inspirational Women, Projects

"I’m really grateful to the Nasio Trust programme because it is really changing lives for good. The Nasio Trust has really changed this community and really changed my life..."
Eunice (supported for 6 years – now volunteering for Nasio)

From the blog...

Nasio’s Medical Centre Nominated for an Award

We are pleased to share that Nasio’s GMK Medical Centre was nominated for the award of Primary Care Provider of the Year at the Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards, 2024.

It was nominated from among 48,000 healthcare providers and was among the top 11 nominees.

Find out more

Our 2024 Nasio Newsletter Has Arrived

Hot off the press – you can read our 2024 Nasio Newsletter.

All the latest Nasio news, information and acheivements.

Find out more

Eunice’s Story

My name is Eunice Juma and am 23 years old. I come from a small village called Buchirinya in Mumias Town.

I am a total orphan after the death of both my parents.My childhood wasn’t a good one because I had to be relocated every now and then to different relatives which means I had to change schools too that affected me in one way or the other but the good part of it is that I went through education despite all the challenges.

Find out more

Get updates by email

Stay up to date with Nasio news, appeals, volunteer stories & fundraising events