Maktaba is a swahili word meaning "Library". We added the "S" to align with our goal of not just one but multiple libraries.
Bringing Books to Children and Adults in Kenya, One School, One Community Library at a Time.
How we Began
Maktabas was created after a local schoolteacher approached one of the directors and requested help in obtaining much-needed books.
The schoolteacher stated that the 350 school children
ages 5-17, lacked text and literature books.
Additionally, after leaving school, young adults have no access to books, so they are bored and engage in anti-social activities.
In 2013, together with some colleagues, one of the directors brought books on a voluntourist trip to Kenya.
The books were shared between Gifted Hands Schools in Kibera, Africa's largest slum and Ndireti, a local County school.
The books were received with unparalled fanfare and gratitude.
Reports from these recipient schools indicate significant academic improvement in all subject areas.
Our Mission is to bridge the literacy gap between Kenyan school children and youth, and the rest of the world by making books of all kinds accessible to any child or adult with an interest in reading.
We are also determined to make sure no books are taken to dumpsites here in the U.S. as long as they can benefit a child or adult in Kenya.
So far, we have shipped containers with books that have been distributed to literary all the 47 counties in Kenya.
2020 - Despite Shipping Disruptions due to Covid - 19 We shipped 6 Containers.
November 3rd 2020:
Our final container of the year. It's amazing that we still managed to ship out 6 containers during a pandemic. But with determination everything is possible. Hope everyone stays safe and wish everyone happy holidays. Lots of gratitude to our donors, team and cheerleaders. We hope 2021 brings us health and more resources.
September 10th 2020:
By now people had almost learned to safeguard themselves from covid-19 but we had lost over 200,000 people in the U.S. Bookstores had slowly started to reopen and we were doing half thrift buys and half bookstores. Slowly we got another shipment out.
July 15th 2020:
Mid Summer bookstores still closed but we got creative and started going to thrift stores which tuned out to be super good sources for books. Only problem is we had to spend money to buy the books but somehow we managed to fill another container and ship it out.
May 29th 2020 :
Covid was at peak. Most Libraries and bookstores were closed but we had more books in our storage here and we loaded another 40ft.
April 11th 2020 :
Here covid-19 was nor here nor there. Everyone did not know how bad it would get and companies were starting to ask their employees to work from home. We thought on our end that if this got any worse, ports and seas would shut down so we quickly loaded a 40ft and dispatched it with our fingers crossed. Kenya banned any entry of goods such as shoes and clothes but luckily books were allowed in. Our shipment got home on June 24th 2020.
January 11th 2020:
First container of 2020 and before we knew what was about to hit us as a world. We had just come from home and met with a few of our recipients and given the project a clean bill of health based on feedback. We donated a few more books to schools that needed more and got back stoked for another eventful year. The container got home in March and the clearance process was flawless.
2019 -We Shipped a Record Ten 40ft Containers in 2019.
Our First container of the year left Port of Oakland on February 19th and got to Kenya on April 11th. The goal is to send double the number of 40 foot containers we sent last year.
May 1st 2019 - Saw our 2nd container loaded and it got home mid June.
June 12th 2019 - Our 3rd Container was loaded and got home on August 1st 2019.
July 3rd, 17th and 31st 2019 - The Triplets left for Kenya.
Yes you read that right. Our book donors went on some adrenaline rush. During Summer, kids are made to clean up their shelves, parents are home clearing out the garages and they take these books to the bookstores and exchange them for new reads through the entire 3 month break. So July alone we had a record breaking 3 shipments in a single month.
The July3rd and July 17th container were so close to each other that when the July3rd container got to China, it was offloaded and loaded on the ship with the July 17th container and they both got to Port of Mombasa on September 10th 2019. These 2 were the first containers to be offloaded into our newly leased humongous warehouse. The warehouse can accommodate up twenty 40ft containers and will provide ample space for sorting our books.
Our July 31st Container was the 6th container of 2019 and docked into Mombasa on September 26th 2019 and we offloaded it on October 2nd 2019.
September 6th 2019 - Our 7th container was loaded in Hayward with an ETA of November 7th 2019 into Mombasa.
October 2nd 2019: The same day we offloaded our July31st container, in Kenya we were in Hayward California loading and sent out our 8th container of the year. The driver called 2 hours later to say that it was too heavy when it rolled on to the scale. We went to the Port of Oakland at 8pm and offloaded about 100 boxes and crossed our fingers that the person guarding the scale the next day will let it sail through. We never heard back from the Port of Oakland folk so they must have just loaded the container and all it's 90,000tons.
November 2nd 2019: We loaded our 9th container. We did this on a Saturday in a record 3 and a half hours Having learnt the lesson about weight on the previous one, we were a bit careful and shorted it by about 100 boxes and it went right into the port with no issues. The container was offloaded on January23rd 2020.
November 27th 2019: Our 10th and last container of the year was loaded. It has a docking date on February 2nd 2020.
2018 - Shipped Five 40ft Containers
Our first container for 2018 was delayed by 2 months because of the issues we had clearing the December one. We shipped it out on May 23rd 2018 and is expected in Mombasa on July 29th 2018. We have a new system where containers are going to Nairobi by SGR and eagerly waiting to see how this goes. In the meantime we have updated our gallery with books going to Daisy school in Gachie, we also donated books to two schools in Muran'ga where a young man called William Kimani helped raise funds from his school to build shelves for Paul Mbiyu and Nyaga schools in Muran'ga. Other beneficiaries were Jacaranda Primary, Machakos country schools, Kenya National Hospital Cancer Palliative Care center, Kamiti and Lang'ata Womens Prison. among others.
Our 3rd container went out on August 3rd 2018 and got home on
September 21st. It was finally cleared after a month of back and forth and rigorous re-verification processes.
Our 4th container was loaded on October 4th 2018 and is expected home around November 18th 2018. We had this container cleared with no issues and in our storage on December 23rd 2018.
Our 5th and final container of the year left port of Oakland on November 9th 2018 and we got it in our storage on January 14th 2019 by the same agent who cleared the previous one.
With the right agent, the flow is smooth and very professionally done. 2018 was by far the most successful year in terms of quantity shipped. Lots of lessons on what to do and what to avoid. Our journey continues and hope 2019 finds us healthy and vibrant to ship even more containers.
2016 - Shipped two 40ft Containers
A 40ft container that shipped early January 2016 went to Karia, Lioki, Kanjai, Kiaria and tons of other schools.
On September 2016 we had a very dramatic shipment as we ambitiously requested the shipping company to bring the container at 12:30pm. We loaded the container until 8:30pm . The container was filled to capacity and got home around November 2016. We are working with customs to allow us to bring books to Kenya duty free and we are making strides. There is a Florence law that allows for free duty on library books and are trying to be qualified under it and be fully registered as a 501 (c) (3) in Kenya too.
2015 - Shipped two 20ft Containers
In 2015, we shipped 2 (two) 20ft containers of books and some these went to Giathieko primary school, Miatahto primary school, Gathirimu and Kambui Girls high amongst other schools.
2014 - Paid a Shipping company to ship a few boxes
In 2014, Maktabas shipped 96 boxes measuring 24x24x28 inches.
We have expanded our reach to other schools including Riamute, St. Vincent De Paul Nursery/Rehabilitation Center and Miguta School.
In addition to providing the books we have included school supplies which too are lacking in these facilities.