Highland Park Students on a Mission To Provide Books for Africa

ENTEBBE, Uganda – I took a deep breath as the car approached the home. This would be the first time I stood face-to-face with a project meant to change 33 kids’ lives forever. 

It had been weeks since my Highland Park High School club, Books For Africa (BFA), sent more than 1,000 books to the community library I now stood in front of, and just a few steps ahead stood the school principal.

Esther, the headmaster, guided me into a sitting room, and as we settled in, I began explaining my passion project.

BFA is committed to strengthening education throughout Africa by donating children’s books across the continent and working to empower young minds and improve educational opportunities. 

I shared with Esther the commitment of more than 130 student BFA members, who are dedicated to collecting as many books as possible for underfunded communities across the continent. 

Following our initial donation of 1,000 books, we partnered with Half Price Books to acquire more. 

After I finished my story, I asked Esther for hers, to which she laughed, smiled a little wider, and began.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, her parents were building a home in Entebbe. During their visits, Esther and her sister encountered local children, eventually establishing a bond by offering them candy each time they visited. 

After discovering that many of these children lacked access to education due to financial constraints, Esther and her sister took it upon themselves to read to them each time they’d stop by. 

The makeshift garage library they created evolved into the Whispers of Love Community Library, eventually transforming into a school for 33 students aged 3 to 13.

After hearing her inspiring story, I followed Esther to meet the children, who paid close attention as she explained BFA’s contribution to their library. 

They enjoyed showcasing all they had learned by counting to 10 for me, singing, and, in the end, embracing me tightly as I prepared to leave. 

As we drove away, I saw in the rearview mirror not just the fleeting library but the realization that within that library, hundreds of children after those 33 would be given new opportunities to achieve their dreams.

Isabel Toole, a sophomore at Highland Park High School, founded Books For Africa (BFA), a club focused on the educational gap across Africa and donating books in countries across the continent. 

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