Grace's Story


Ever since I started working at Fountain of Hope Lubuto Library in Kamwala, I enjoy it to the fullest. The greetings and smiles from the vulnerable children light up my day completely. Girls and boys coming from different environments all decide to enter the library daily and weekly to use the programs to their advantage. One particular child is a girl named Grace*.

Grace is a 10-year-old girl who is deaf, she can’t hear nor can she talk or sign. The children call her "chibulu" which means "deaf person" in the local language, Cinyanja. Every time she visits the library alone or with friends, she knows she firstly needs to sign her name on the sign-in sheet in the Reading Room, because she always asks for the pen, using basic hand signals. Despite her silent communication, she participates in almost every library program; it really amazes all of us, as library staff.

After signing her name, she enjoys running to the Art Room to start using the library's devices: LubutoLaptops and zEdupads. Those are most likely her favorite programs because she spends a lot of time there. While waiting for her turn, she decides to play with the wooden and magnetic blocks as well as the chess pieces. In time, she is given her favourite device and enjoys it with the 20 minutes she has been given. While observing her, she doesn’t talk but constantly smiles. When it is time up, she runs out to the Reading Room to pick some books to read.


Even though she can’t participate in LubutoStorytime and ask questions like all the other children do, she makes her own story in her mind and tries to communicate with me based on the pictures in the book. In order to make children more aware of their deaf peers, we often display posters of the alphabet, greetings and counting in Sign Language on the library front desk. The alphabet poster particularly has intrigued her because she enjoys copying the letter hand signs. She also enjoys participating in the games played just before LubutoMentoring and LubutoDrama sessions commence. She actively joins in and is not shy to copy the other children. LubutoArt has also captured her love for drawing and coloring because as soon as she sees a blank paper, she asks for it.

My heart aches because this little girl is a happy child who cannot hear, yet she is so amused and interested in the programs the library has to offer her and other vulnerable children. Grace brings out the importance of having learning programs for children with special needs. Sometimes, there can be busy and tough days at the library but she reminds me that my job is totally worth it.

*name changed to ensure anonymity

Am I going to fit in?


The first day in any new environment can be a pretty scary experience, expectations and anxiety are high, but the biggest fear of them all is “am I going to fit in?”

My first day at Lubuto Library Partners was no exception, the fear of been among the youngest and a newbie crippled my spine.

On my way to work I asked myself several questions that led to more questions than answers, “What if I mess up, or fail to leave up to their expectations or maybe am just not the right candidate for this job?”

The more I thought about it the more timid I became. I quickly reassured myself with a quote I read somewhere that said “if you stumble make it part of the dance”, and that was exactly what I was going to do, dance stumble and dance again.

But Lubuto was nothing like I pictured it to be, it felt more of home than work, such a warm, loving, young and dynamic group of people enthusiastic about promoting literacy.

Their libraries are no exception. During my orientation I had so much fun interacting with the different children that walk through our doors daily and don’t walk out the same.

Life doesn’t get any better than having a job that allows the 4, 8, 13, 16 and 18 year old in you who has been suppressed by adulthood to finally come out to play.

Am I going to fit in? Of course I am!!

I have worked in many organisations, but no organisation has been as warm as Lubuto Library Partners.

This is no cliché, but everyone in this organisation is warm and loving. I am guessing maybe that is why it is called Lubuto after all, ‘a Bemba word for light’, because you definitely cannot leave without having some light shone on you.

Saying Bye to Naluyele

One of the joys of visiting a Lubuto Library often is seeing familiar faces. The experience is enhanced by interacting with people you’ve seen around but never really got the chance to talk to. Under normal circumstances, this should be a happy experience but my meeting Naluyele for the first time actually had the opposite effect. It made me quite sad.

Reading Culture

I run into lots of people in Zambia who ask me what I'm doing here. It's a fair question, and so I tell them: I'm a librarian-in-training, conducting collection evaluation research in children’s libraries. And more than once now the person I'm talking to has looked at me with bemusement and a little bit of pity and said, "A librarian? But here we don't have a reading culture."

Picture Books

I am one of those weird people who loves public speaking. I find it invigorating. Even more than public speaking, though, I love reading. So it comes as a surprise to no one when I say that I love storytimes-- they are public reading, shared experiences in which I can make a story I love come alive for a group of children. 

Learning About Biodiversity and Other Big Questions of Life at The Library

Library users at Ngwerere Lubuto Library have been using Wikipedia for Schools and the World Book Encylopedia (digital) for over a month now. I’ve spent some time at the library observing the use of these e-resources and interacting with users. 

Meet Thomas Mukonde

A video to introduce our Library Services Advisor, Thomas Mukonde. Thomas, based in Lusaka, Zambia, needs funds to earn a Masters in Library Science at the University of Illinois. Lubuto believes that supporting his professional education is the key to the future not only of Lubuto, but of children's libraries across the continent. Please consider contributing today!