When twelve UW-Madison students traveled to Kenya through a study abroad program in the spring of 2008, they had no idea how much the experience would affect their outlooks on life.
After months of living in wooden structures and small clay houses in the third-world country, five students came together to form a charity-based organization directed toward assisting the Kenya School Libraries Program.
“The people in Kenya are amazing. They are so smart and have so much potential, they just need to be given the opportunity,” Hannah Brown, one of the students who went on the trip, said.
The mission of KSLP is to improve educational opportunities available in Kenya through the development of libraries at the secondary education level. They also want to establish various relationships between communities in Kenya and the United States.
“My perspective on pretty much everything has changed. I appreciate much more how stable our [government] is here in America,” Brown said.
Brown, Michael Kenyon, Kelly McKeown, Lily Hlavacek and Alex Grossi, the students who initially thought of the idea, said they were frustrated they did not have enough money to help everyone in need.
“I realized that people are the same everywhere, but opportunities for success are not evenly distributed throughout the world,” Kenyon said.
The students decided to organize a sustainable charity they hoped would transcend the current generation and continue throughout the future.
Before leaving Kenya, they formed the first KSLP committee in the town of Maua. In a statement, McKeown said the people in the town were the first to willingly volunteer in helping create libraries for all secondary schools in the area.
“Our goal after this pilot project in [Maua] is to move to other areas of the country as well as other universities in the United States and continue to establish relationships,” Kenyon said. KSLP hopes to collect materials through book drives, fundraisers and UW-Madison students who want to donate new and used books to the charity. The organization currently holds bagel sales at the Social Science building once a month.
If students want to donate books to KSLP, or would like to join the organization, visit booksbuildhope.org or e-mail KSLP at firstname.lastname@example.org.