BY KEITH LACEY
Two University of Sudbury professors are spearheading a project to bring books and reading materials to the war-ravaged African country of Burundi.
The small central African country is rebuilding after more than 10 years of civil war and the new government has made a commitment to offer every child in Burundi a quality education.
Books are needed to achieve that goal, said Melchior Mbonimpa, who emigrated from Burundi in 1987. He has been teaching at the University of Sudbury for the past 14 years.
?The new president of Burundi has announced all kids will go to school,? said Mbonimpa. ?This is a big decision because you used to have to pay to go to school and more than 40 percent of children from Burundi did not attend school.?
The Embassy of Burundi in Ottawa approached him and asked if he would participate in a book drive. He will be assisted in the venture by fellow University of Sudbury professor Fabien Cishahayo, who is also a native of Burundi.
The project has been called A Book for All: Support to Libraries and Documentation Centres in Burundi.
The government has committed to re-establishing a solid school system from primary, through to secondary and post-secondary and building a huge catalogue of library and text books is essential, said Mbonimpa.
?The more books the better...we will need novels, text books and books in both French and English,? he said.
Mbonimpa is hoping to collect hundreds of books.
Officials from the Embassy of Burundi will make the trip to Sudbury in November to pick up the books and ensure they are properly transported overseas to Africa, said Mbonimpa. ?If people wish to give books, please let us know before Oct. 31, and we will collect them and send them in November,? he said.
Burundi is located in Central Africa near the equator. It is a former Belgian colony and has a population of around six million people. French is one of the official languages.
Anyone wishing to drop off books can do so at the University of Sudbury on the campus of Laurentian University in Room 103 or Room 206 or near the front door of the library.
If anyone wants further information, they can contact Mbonimpa at 673-5661, ext. 150 or e-mail him at email@example.com