An Interview with Volunteer Julie Allen From July 14-30, Lubuto Library Project was fortunate to have Washington, DC school librarian Julie Allen come to Lusaka and undertake the daunting task of doing a complete inventory of the Fountain of Hope Lubuto library collection. Julie worked so hard to finish, staying for seven hours each day to catalogue books, and taking the occasional break to read with children. We’re happy to say that she did indeed complete her mission, but we’re (and by we, I mean me, as I have lost my dinner buddy) sad to see her go. But before she left, I asked her some questions concerning her time at Lubuto.
- How did you first hear about Lubuto?
I heard about Lubuto through a friend who worked at the Politics and Prose bookstore in DC. She knew I had done other volunteer work. Jane was at the store at the same time over a year ago I mentioned to her that I would love to come to Zambia to volunteer. I contacted Jane in the spring of this year and asked her if there were any volunteer opportunities. She asked me if I would like to do an inventory. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity- it was a perfect time to do something like this. We met on Sundays and she gave me a full background of Lubuto and what the future was going to bring and her background of living here.
- How long did you stay in Zambia?
I stayed here a total of sixteen days and it was much too short, but with the help of some friends I was able to complete the inventory that I set out to do.
- What were your first impressions of the library?
I had seen the pictures of the actual structure of the library and I was not disappointed at all in person. It’s beautifully constructed. My first impressions, when I saw the children coming in to use the library, I really felt that it was meant to be, that this was a place that would bring much joy to the children through their reading and the programs here.
- What is your favorite Lubuto memory?
I really think it’s seeing the children come in on their own, and reading on their own, pronouncing the words and asking for help, and spending a considerable amount of time concentrating with one book. It’s young and old that come in. And just the discipline that they have…it impresses me, their thirst for knowledge. And of course the Pippi drama, which as the days have gone on has gotten better and better. Their patience and listening well, just very impressive. It’s always the children I remember.
- Why do you think the library is important?
It just brings the children together to do something worthwhile in their lives. Acting out their feelings in the mentoring program, through the books, sharing their knowledge. It’s a continuation of their schooling. There is recreation; it’s a place for the children to come. And it’s a wonderful community of children who know each other. It was a great opportunity and I was blessed to be able to do this. I received so much in coming. It’s never too late to learn new things.
Julie is missed here at Lubuto, where everyone is asking if Miss Julie will come back soon. She also made the day for Lubuto artists Joe and Emmanuel, purchasing two of their paintings to take back as souvenirs. All of us here in Zambia want Julie to come back to visit soon, but in the meantime, we hope that when she looks at her beautiful art, she will be reminded of all her Lubuto friends. Zikomo kwambiri, Julie!