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Kawangware Community library and Information Centre



Kawangware is one of the seven poorest areas to be found in Nairobi, Kenya. It is officially a formal settlement, as opposed to an informal settlement (slum) area.

The Kawangware community lives in a different world- especially in this era of information technology. Lack of general information and education is greatly contributing to rapid poverty increase within the area. This is a formal settlement where the majority are poor, and a high birth rate. The majority know how to read and write but, due to general lack of current oral and verbal information on life, it is hard to them to make any basic steps to overcome these challenges.

The library and information centre is going to be a diverse central figure in helping every age group in this community to access important information through reading narrating and viewing. The community children will find a centre to do research and school work instead of roaming around - which has become a common way of promoting most dangerous vices in the community.

The majority of households do not have electricity, and are one roomed houses accommodating both parents and their grown up children both male and female. The houses don't provide space for study or reading environment, and does not encourage children to stay at home; their library becomes a home to obtain knowledge. It will also act as a quiet and inspirational centre where imaginations can fly high to find answers on how to overcome life challenges.

The library will also have specific events such as talks on health, child abuse, employment creational skills, story telling and others all from identified experts for a better improved future.

WFF (which stands for Work For Food) is a community project which started in the year 2004 as a way of teaching the poor community to work for their basic needs, especially food. The main denominator of this programme came as a result of school children who going without food, and yet they were struggling searching for education in locals schools, WWF runs a number of community projects including: community health centre, posho mill project, school education programme and food & saving scheme.

Staffing and StocK


The centre stocks all good books donated globally by generous support of The Kidslibs Trust. They are the last of the books donated by donors in the UK( Loughborough Rotary Club, Bakewell Rotary Club, Dorset School Library Service, Cumbria Library Service, Jersey Library Service, and a school in Leeds,) and transported by British High Commission, Toyota East Africa and DHL UK and Kenya. We have also received a large collection of medical books from AMREF, and at opening 12 boxes of books from Braeburn Prep school. Thank you everyone!!!

Our stock on opening was just over 3000 items.


Maurice, Henry and Isobella staff the library. Maurice is our full time staff member, and Henry and Isobella are volunteers,


Library Committe Members

Our Sponsor

The Safaricom Foundation is sponsoring the centre for its first two years. This includes rent for the room, and staffing for the period, as well as the initial refurbishment of the room. WFF received the first cheque from the Foundation (January 2007) , which is enough to set up the centre, and to run it for a year.



The Library Building

In April 2007 we decided to find a new building in the Kawangware area, as the proposed building ended up being a feud betwen landlords! We found a suitable building close by. These rooms are now carpeted and most of the library furniture is in place. The books had been delivered to a site close to the old building. These had to be moved to the new site.

June 2007

Henry and Isobella










Kawangware centre

December 2008

On November 27th we moved Kawangware library to new premesis on Naivasha road in Kawangware. This was because of rent increases made by the existing landlord, and by the increase in use of the library by the community! WFF found a room built with CDF funding, and it was agreed to let the library move in at a low rent.

The centre is still trying to find methods of sustaining itself

May 08

This morning WFF had a meeting to set future goals.This came as a result of the rapid growth in the current use of our library:- in the last 4 months we have 1,200 active library users and even the study room has become smaller! Most of the users -expecially children - are coming from far away, and at times, (since we close at 6 pm), they arrive home late as they need to use the library for study daily.

We have resolved that we make an effort to seek for a willing donor who can help us in the future to open another library at Kamitha area, closer to most kids who comes from far away.

Should this goal succed then we shall still call the library as KAWANGWARE KIDSLIBS CENTRE 2. The landlord at the existing centre has raised the rent of the library to Ksh 15000 from 12,000/-
which we did not expect.

By fund raising will we will be able to sustain our existing centre and even to start thinking of getting a donor who can help us buy a plot for the current library.


Bookclub ... second meeting!!

We had our second bookclub meeting at Braeburn school. The children have been reading The Outsiders by H.E. Hinton. Their second book is Burn My Heart by Beverley Naidoo. All of the books are focusing on the theme of reconciliation in view of local events since the 2007 general elections.



We now have a membership of over 1,200 since opening at the end of January!


Pen Pals Club

Susan Phillips is running this, currently only at Kawangware. Girls from our centre are writing to other children in the USA - a girls scouts group, talking about their likes and dislikes, their dreams etc. We will see how this goes before introducing at the other centres!



Opening of the centre!!

Opened January 26th 2008!!

At 10 O'Clock on the 26th of January we opened the centre! The event was quite low key for several reasons;- firstly because of current unrest we did not want to attract too big a crowd, and secondly because Safaricom our main sponsor could not come due to security concerns. They will do a high profile opening some time in the future when the current unrest has calmed.

We did however have several schools performing poems, dancing or plays, several speakers, and every school managed to come inside the library to see it! They all wanted to enrole immediately!!

We had visitors:- from Braeburn Preparatory School who also donated 12 boxes of book as part of their bookweek! Donna Kranik from Rosslyn Academy school, the area chief, and other local representatives, including from KRep bank, who hold the bank account for WFF.

Well done Isabella. Maurice, Henry snd Jackson for getting the centre open! You all worked REALLY hard!!! The centre looks great, and here's hoping will be well used by ALL members of the community!

We will be open daily from Monday 28th January!

Wheelchair donation! (February 2008)

We have been donated a new wheelchair by Church of the Latterday Saints! We hope that wheelchair- bound users will come to the library in their own chairs, and move to the library chair whilst they use the library!


Safaricom Foundation second installment

March 2008

In March we received the second installment of our support from Safaricom Foundation! This will enable us to continue running the centre, set up our drama and music groups, and hopefully leave us with enough to set up the method of sustainability for when the Safaricom money finishes. WFF is planning to start a posho mill project, involving grinding grain and selling for a small profit.



We are still looking for two computers to put in this new library... any donation welcome!

We also need a set of encyclopaedias post 1973!!!...

If you have any old CD ROM's e.g. Encarta or other information based CD ROM these would also be gladly accepted!





We have a local artist ready and waiting to show our centre members how to draw, paint etc.


The local drama group has already performed at the centre, but we also hope to create our own drama group with children of all ages with the local schools. George Nderitu from Haba na Haba in Mathare is visiting the centre soon to discuss ways he can assist in setting up library drama groups.


The Bookclub will hopefully start after Easter with Braevurn Prep school in Nairobi. We are in negotiation to create a monthly bookclub, where 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls, age 12yrs) from Kawangware centre, and the same from Braeburn will meet monthly at Braeburn (Braeburn providing the transport for the Kawangware kids) to discuss a different book every month. Watch this space for developments. Susan Philips will be coordinating the clubs of behalf of KidsLibs Trust.




Last revision: Oct, 2005