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December 28, 2017

U.S.-Zambia Public Library Partnership Targets At-Risk Youth

LUSAKA — This year, the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID/ASHA) helped open the Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library, increasing access to quality education for all young people, but especially the vulnerable and out-of-school children in the Lusaka-West area of Zambia’s capital.

Mthunzi Library, the fourth such institution developed by the U.S.-based non-profit organization Lubuto Library Partners (LLP), serves as community center offering programs that provide education, information, psychosocial support, and self-expression. USAID/ASHA awarded nearly $250,000 towards the development of the Lubuto Library at the Mthunzi Center, in line with its mission to provide assistance to schools, libraries, and medical centers outside the United States that serve as study and demonstration centers for American ideas and practices.

“American values of volunteerism and community service are embraced by those who utilize Lubuto Libraries’ services, through programs that continue to grow to cover a wide range of innovative activities,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Eric Shultz speaking at the library’s opening. “In line with the American vision of a world where all children and youth thrive and prosper, including those with special needs and different abilities, this library will promote a stimulating, supportive, and safe environment for Zambian youth.”

The Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library is unique in two distinct ways: it is the first Lubuto Library center to receive USAID/ASHA support; moreover, it is also made possible by the direct donation of an additional $100,000 from a private American citizen, Mrs. Judy Feedham. This unique public-private partnership serves as an innovative development example bolstering the positive relationship between both the citizens of the United States and Zambia.

Also speaking at the Mthunzi opening Lubuto President Jane Kinney said of the library, “In the time ahead, you will be able to find out for yourselves why this library is your special place. It is a safe place that is open to all of the children and youth in this community; a place where you all belong. If you have siblings or friends who are deaf or blind, this library is also for them.”

Mthunzi is indicative of the LLP’s mission to enlighten and enrich the lives of children and youth in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the four Lubuto Libraries in Zambia have reached more than 120,000 young people, with the Mthunzi Library introducing its innovative services to nearly 2,500 more library users in its first five months of operation since its June 2017 opening. Of the more than 15,000 children and youth that have participated in the specific programs offered at the various libraries, 71 percent are single or double orphans, 27 percent are out-of-school, and 8 percent are street children.  

In October of 2016, LLP was selected as 1 of 56 winners of a PEPFAR/DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored, and Safe) Innovation Challenge grant that focuses on keeping adolescent girls in secondary school. Utilizing the Lubuto Mthunzi Library concurrently with its three sister facilities in Zambia, the two-year PEPFAR grant program aims to provide over 20,000 adolescent girls and young women with sexual and reproductive health information, educational support, and help to overcome gender practices that obstruct the full integration of girls and boys into society through greater social inclusion.

The Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library illustrates the ongoing cooperation between the governments of the United States and Zambia, Lubuto Library Partners, private citizens, and local volunteers toward the empowerment of Zambia’s children and youth, helping them develop the knowledge and skills to better participate fully in their local communities and society.


Photo: Staff at the Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library in Lusaka-West read to children in a talking circle. Photo courtesy of LLP

Photo: Staff at the Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library in Lusaka-West read to children in a talking circle. Photo courtesy of LLP


ABOUT USAID:  USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency working around the world to end extreme poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.  When crisis strikes; when rights are repressed; when hunger, disease, and poverty rob people of opportunity; USAID acts on behalf of the American People to help expand the reach of prosperity and dignity to the world's most vulnerable

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ABOUT LUBUTO LIBRARY PARTNERS: Lubuto Library Partners is an innovative development organization that builds the capacity of African libraries to create opportunities for equitable education and poverty reduction. Its mission is to enlighten and enrich the lives of children and youth in sub-Saharan Africa, especially those not in school and highly vulnerable.