We are starting a new series of interviews where we would like to introduce our local Bookfeeders, starting with Haggai Otieno Amonde from Kenya.
Haggai is in charge of the management of the library in Likoni, a slum area outside the Mombasa Island in the south of Kenya. He has been part of the project since the beginning and always has new ideas on how to improve the library. He already extended the library services into a cyber café where students can use laptops. His next goal is to create a Social Business by establishing a small cinema within the library which would generate an income that can be used to further improve and sustain the library. His passion for education and helping his community made him into who he is now. An entrepreneur, a teacher, a social-worker, a football coach and a great role model for his students.
Carolin: How did you get involved in Bookfeeding Project?
Haggai: I got involved in Bookfeeding Project through my work with Vera and James from Kipepeo Foundation in 2010. They were supporting a school where I worked as a teacher. Vera was Alena's tutor. I had an opportunity to share my dreams of helping and empowering others through education and they quite welcomed it. That's how I started my work with Kipepeo Foundation. Then Vera introduced me to Alena. At that time, Alena was Vera’s student and learnt about the work of Kipepeo Foundation. Little by little we grew from helping schools to building classrooms to providing food for pupils from poor backgrounds until the idea of Bookfeeding came about and I really loved it. In April 2015, Alena came back to start Bookfeeding Project in Likoni and actually build the library. So in order begin the project, we first needed to find a suitable place. I talked to a school owner in Likoni who agreed to donate a room for the library and that's how we started.
Carolin: You mentioned that you were a teacher. Which subjects did you teach?
Haggai: Well, I taught Mathematics and English at Primary School here but not anymore.
Carolin: Did you have any doubts whether Bookfeeding Project would be successful in your community?
Haggai: Yes. I loved the idea but I also wondered whether people here would even support the building of a public library as many of them do not even know how to read or write. Now I thank God because many children have developed a reading habit and are doing quite well.
Carolin: Can you tell us more about yourself and how you grew up?
Haggai: As for my personal life, I was raised as an orphan. My parents both died in 1997 when I was only 11. I had other brothers and a sister. I lived in an orphanage, educated by well-wishers. Ever since I learnt to help others and that's what I do. I am 29, married and have a beautiful daughter. Next to my voluntary work at the library, I also run a soccer academy - Ocean Stars Soccer Academy. The soccer academy started with boys from the streets that I brought together by the grace of god, talked to and with the help of Kipepeo. Now it is a home where over 70 boys and girls meet to train and have fun. I can talk and talk and talk but I guess I can stop here as I have a football match today with the boys in 2 hours. By the way, I am now a qualified football coach.
Carolin: Thank you very much for your time and effort. Good luck for the next match!
Haggai was interviewed by Carolin von Janowski, Co-Founder of Bookfeeding Project.