Catch a Falling Star: Poster Session at the American Library Association Annual Conference

Pocket Library Poster Session

Catch a Falling Star: Pocket Library poster session at the American Library Association

Doris Gebel, President of the United States Board on Books for Young People, joined Segenat Foundation Board Members Janet Lee and Jane Mirandette, in presenting a poster session during the International Relations Roundtable (IRRT) session at the American Library Association annual conference in Anaheim in June.

Doris Gebel, President, US Board on Books for Young People

The poster featured photos of children reading at the Segenat Children and Youth Library in Mekelle.  It also featured photos of the workshop given by Anne Pellowski, International Board on Books for Young People, during her visit to Mekelle in October 2011.  Pellowski, a renowned author of books on children’s literature and reading techniques, presented two workshops at the Segenat on producing cloth books in first languages.  She has traveled extensively throughout the world presenting workshops on this topic.

A bilingual cloth book (Amharic and English) that was digitized and displayed on an IPad.

Included in the display were bilingual cloth books written in Amharic and English, Amharic being one of the primary languages of Ethiopia.  The cloth books were scanned and printed for increased distribution.  The cloth books also display beautifully on an iPad.

The poster session was named, “Catch a Falling Star and Put it in Your Pocket,” a popular children’s song, as a way of promoting the newly created Pocket Libraries, another of Pellowski’s creative ideas.  Pocket Libraries are easily transportable and can be assigned to neighborhood leaders for use in story times.  Each pocket library can hold up to 100 children’s books, first language materials preferred.

A brightly decorated pocket library hung in the display.  Another type of pocket library, more aptly described as a sling, bore the first line of the Amharic alphabet.  Gebel, and a group of high school home economics students, have sewn a large batch of pocket libraries to be shipped to Ethiopia to serve as models for further production.

Each Pocket Library can hold up to 100 bilingual or first language children’s books.

Poster sessions such as these, allow the presenters to directly interact with the audience, and present a more hand on approach in demonstrating items such as the cloth books, pocket libraries, and brochures.

Doris Gebel with Segenat Foundation Board Member, Jane Mirandette

The Poster Session was well attended by librarians and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from around the world interested in adopting these ideas for future projects.

Janet Lee, Segenat Foundation Board Member, speaks to Henry Mendelsohn, Regional Information Office at the US Embassy in Nairobi.

Segenat Foundation to become part of the Beyond Access Initiative

We are very pleased to announce that the Segenat Foundation has been chosen to be among the first members to Beyond Access as has been announced on its website:   http://www.beyondaccess.net/2012/04/10/library-innovators-from-serbia-kenya-ethiopia-uganda-and-venezuela-become-beyond-access-members/

Beyond Access is an initiative of IREX, EIFL, IFLA, Makaia, Civic Regeneration, TASCHA, the Riecken Foundation, and READ Global, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Membership to Beyond Access is intended for public library innovators in developing and transitioning countries who are interested in participating in an initiative to showcase how libraries are contributing to development goals and learning from other leaders in the field. Membership is granted for those who have demonstrated successful partnerships with governments and development organizations in meeting community needs in education, health, agriculture, economic opportunity, and civic participation.

Beyond Access Members will:

• attend the Beyond Access 2012 Conference in Washington, DC in October 2012 along with a regional or national government partner

• be eligible for grants competitions at and after the Conference to support scaling initiatives and strengthening partnerships with government

• participate in a series of discussions and events leading up to the Conference

• receive support and expertise in expanding partnerships with governments, development organizations and other community stakeholders.

Please see the Beyond Access profile of the Segenat Foundation:  http://www.beyondaccess.net/2012/05/09/the-segenat-foundation/

Cloth Pocket Libraries Have Arrived

Our first pocket library in use at Fre Sewat Elementary School

Our first cloth Pocket Library has arrived in Ethiopia.  We decided to test drive it at one of our favorite schools:  Fre Sewat, the site of the Dr. Thomas Hooyman Memorial Library and Media Center.   It was an immediate success.  We were soon surrounded by hundreds of children who clamored to read and to have books read to them.  The teachers appreciated the mobility of the Pocket Library.  Books could be transported from the library to the individual classrooms.  The colorful design excited the children and encouraged more reading.
We were introduced to the concept of the Pocket Libraries by our friend Anne Pellowsi from the International Board on Books for Young People.  Anne visited the Segenat Children and Youth Library last October to demonstrate the concept of producing cloth books in local languages.  Cloth is an ideal medium for making one of a kind books in local languages since cloth is easily available and does not require any specialized equipment.
The United States Board on Books for Young People has volunteered to produce additional Pocket Libraries and these will be shipped to the US later in the month.  These will easily be replicated by our fine tailors, here in Mekelle.  The Pocket Libraries will be filled with locally-produced books and distributed to leaders in neighborhoods and in rural areas.  They can be hung on a wall, in a classroom, or as demonstrated here, outdoors on a tree.   It appears that they are definitely a hit!

Many children gather around to find a book from the cloth pocket library.

Hundreds of children surround the pocket library at Fre Sewat Elementary.

Older students enjoy reading to the younger children.

A Trip to the Segenat Children and Youth Library (Summer 2011)

The Segenat Children and Youth Library has received many volunteers and visitors since it opened over a year ago.  The experience affects them in many profound ways and they frequently tell their friends and colleagues, continue with fundraising efforts, dream of ways in which they can return.  We have just received a blog that was posted shortly after a visit to the Segenat this past summer.  We love to hear from our visitors and volunteers!

–Segenat Library

A Trip to the Segenat Children and Youth Library (Summer 2011)

by Tiffany Jones.

I was able to drop off 49 new books plus one homemade one to the Segenat Library. These were donations from the kids at Goodwin.

On Saturday, another volunteer and I decided to take all but the two youngest full time children with us to the library for the puppet show. (1-10 year old, 2-6 year olds, 2-five year olds, 2 almost 2 year olds and her 2 1/2 year old son).

Even the short walk there was an adventure.

Unfortunately for some reason the puppet show was a no-go, but it was almost better. I loved seeing them experience the library.

We kept most of the kids contained in Janet’s Reading Nook. Our biggest guy found the Tigrigna books and started reading.

The kids picked board books, picture books and puzzle books and went to town. Once they got the concept, they were hooked!! It was especially fun to see how our bitty ones loved being read to and looking at books. There is one little girl who is pretty new and this was the first genuine smile and animation I’ve seen. Other children joined the two crazy Ferengi women in the nook and several staff and children just stood outside of it and watched us. I don’t think they’ve probably ever had seen such a mix of small children there together. After about an hour and 15 minutes, we helped our children clean up and had to practically drag a couple with selective hearing out of there.. .

AWESOME!!!

Tiffany Jones at the Segenat Children and Youth Library

Tiffany Jones at the Segenat Children and Youth Library

MEKELLE CITY HOSTED 6TH NATIONS, NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLE’S DAY

]Hidar 29, 2004 (December 9, 2011) was a day of joy and celebration as representatives of about 80 nations, nationalities and people converged  on to the city of Mekelle, a city dubbed “Star of the North” to celebrate their diverse cultures and to forge unity of all Ethiopian people.

Throngs of people in the Tigray Region welcomed the Nations and Nationalities to every town and village with flowers and dances of joy as the convoy of buses that carried the Nations and Nationalities’ representatives passed through.

In the City of Mekelle, home of the Segenat Children and Youth Library and Headquarters  of the Segenat Foundation,  thousands of people lined up to welcome the representatives of the Nations and Nationalities who poured into all major streets two days before the day of celebration. On Hidar 29 (December 9) the new and yet unfinished Mekelle Stadium was flooded over by hundreds of thousands of Mekelle citizens, men and women, young and old to watch the parade of Nations and Nationalities.

I was one of those people who witnessed this historic and monumental occasion that celebrates Ethiopia’s Nations and Nationalities.  This is by far the pinnacle of many achievements of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to ensure the unity and solidarity of all Ethiopian people. I was born and raised amongst oppressed and subjugated nations and nationalities in the past. Ethiopia was called “the prison house of nations” and to see with my own eyes and to witness firsthand, the freedom of all Ethiopians to speak their own language, and to develop their own cultural heritage and take part in building their nation in all aspects of their lives is something to celebrate and to be proud.  Tigrayans of all walks of life displayed their greatest joy and affection to all the Nations and Nationalities. Some were in tears of joy to see their fellow Ethiopians for the first time.

“Our Diversity is our Beauty” said one banner.  Ethiopians are truly the most beautiful people on earth. The most beautiful thing of all is, however, that Ethiopians are united more than any time in their long history to forge ahead hand in hand into the future – a future of hope, peace and development.

Yohannes Gebregeorgis

Founder, Segenat Foundation

AAUW presentation at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C..

 On Sunday, September 25, 2011, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., American Association of University Women of Virginia in partnership with the Tigray Development Association, presented a Fall International Program, Literacy: the Key to Development in Ethiopia at the Ethiopian Embassy. Open to all AAUW members and friends, this free program began with a warm welcome from the honorable Deputy Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma. Deputy Ambassador’s remarks focused on the importance of creating a continuing collaborative partnership with AAUW.

Next, Dr. Gebrewahid Woldu, Chairperson, TDA Board, provided information about the Tigray Development Association and its ongoing humanitarian efforts. Janet Lee, Librarian, Regis University, Denver, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer/Ethiopia, engaged the audience in a special multi-media presentation on the Tigray Library and Literacy Development Project. This project was spearheaded by Yohannes Gebregeogis, a political refugee and trained librarian. Yohannes was named a Top 10 CNN Hero in 2008 for his work in bringing libraries and literacy to children in his native Ethiopia. (www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive/yohannes.gebregeorgis.html). In 2010, he established the Segenat Children and Youth Library in Mekelle, the first children’s library in the region of Tigray.

This flagship library was featured in American Libraries http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/08232010/new-youth-library-ethiopia-makes-impossible-dream-reality and caught the attention of members of the Virginia State Board. The program concluded with a video presentation on the cultural and historical aspects of Ethiopia along with a traditional coffee ceremony. To mark the first anniversary of the Segenat Children and Youth Library, cake was served along with traditional Ethiopian coffee.

This program provided AAUW members and friends an opportunity to make a voluntary contribution that will make a significant difference in library and literacy efforts for children in Ethiopia. 

Volunteers preparing for presentation at the Ethiopian Embassy in DC

 

Putting on the finishing touches of the 1st anniversary cake.

 

Preparations prior to the presentation.

 

From left to right: Janet Lee, Dr. Gebrewahid Woldu, Athena Michael, and Deputy Ambassador Tesfay Yilma.

 

Janet Lee and Deputy Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma cut anniversary cake.

 

Traditional Coffee Ceremony

One Year Later, the Trees as well as the Children Stretch to New Heights at the Segenat

Nearly two years ago the Mayor of the City of Mekelle approached Yohannes Gebregeorgis about the possibility of turning a vacated building into a children’s library.  Yohannes, Barbara Baker (who was visiting Mekelle for the dedication of the Dr. Thomas Hooyman Memorial Library in memory of her brother), three Peace Corps Volunteers (Shelley McCreery, Danielle Hoekwater, Nicholas Strnad) and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and librarian Janet Lee, inspected the building and imagined the possibilities.

One grand thought was to line the pathway leading up to the entrance of the library with indigenous trees similar to the trees that one sees when entering the city from the airport.  Regis University Librarian (Denver, Colorado), Jan Loechell Turner, heeded the call and funded the project of both purchase of the trees and their ongoing maintenance.

One does not normally think of planting a tree, providing a bench, or painting a mural when donating funds to build a library.  A library should be more than a warehouse for books.  It can be a refuge from the daily routines of a busy day: a place to read, to play chess or checkers or Scrabble, to participate in arts and crafts, or to read a book quietly under the shade of a tree.

Thank you Jan for your gift that will last a lifetime.

The attached photos demonstrate the growth of this precious gift of trees over the past year.  Like children, trees grow by leaps and bounds with just a little loving care.  Many thanks to Fitsum Behane, IT volunteer instructor, for providing these updated photos.

These beautiful trees, donated by Regis University Librarian Jan Lochell Turner, are delivered to the Segenat, summer 2010.

 
 

The trees are lined up, spaced apart, and ready for planting.

 

Three boys in front of a tree, summer 2010.

 

Lula Gebresellasie, a library regular, stands in front of a tree, November 2010.

 

Two girls in front of a tree, September 2011. My how they have grown. Photo by Fitsum Berhane.

 

The Meskal flowers are in full bloom. Photo by Fitsum Berhane.

 

This tree has grown nearly three times its height. Photo by Fitsum Berhane.