Community holds open library everyday Monday through Friday from 3:15 to 4:15 in the afternoon. On sunny days, Jordan and I take a handful of colourful children’s books outside and sit on the great, big, gnarly roots of the Baobab tree. On the off day that it rains, we sit inside the library and prop the door open. Children come and go as they please. Some like to look at the illustrations. Some like to read the words. Some like to speedily race their hand-made wooden cars. And some like to spin Tusker bottle caps on a piece of string.
|Lea tests out some of the local boys amazing car creations|
One particular day in open library stands out. A couple of days ago, a 19-year-old boy named Ali stumbled upon the Baobab tree. He was a newcomer. He sat beside me on one of the great, big roots, asked for a book, and proceeded to read it aloud. After reading one book, he read another. And another. He mispronounced. I pronounced. He asked comprehension questions. I answered. He read. I listened. The hour of open library was coming to an end and I told Ali that we would be back tomorrow under the tree with more books. He looked disappointed that his hour of reading was coming to an end. He said he wanted to learn English. I was surprised at his request and told him that he could come to the men’s English class the very next afternoon. I had my doubts as men’s English on Tuesday rolled around. Jordan and I walked through the wooden gates to the schoolyard, passed the grazing goats, and unlocked the door of the library where men’s English is held. Mr. Kiponda, one of my usual students showed up. And then, to my delightful surprise, Ali’s eager presence popped through the doorway, books in hand.
Ali’s eagerness for challenge is admirable. His willingness to learn for the sake of learning is a rare find. The Baobab tree is quietly magnificent. It’s rich, green canopy of leaves, sturdy trunk, and firm roots is a haven for play, laughter, and imagination. Ali stumbled upon the right Baobab tree, and so did I.