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Sabre’s Kimberly Bartlett about to depart Borama, Somalia, aboard a Tajikistan-built Daalo Airlines plane bound for Djibouti. Seeing her off is Abdi Mohamud Muse of Amoud University’s Technical Support Committee.  

A Focus on Africa

While continuing the growth of its projects worldwide, Sabre Foundation has placed a special emphasis in 2000 on expanding its activities on the African continent. To further this goal, staff members Kimberly Bartlett and Colin McCullough each traveled overseas in 2000.

Beginning with the launching of the Michael W. Christian Program for Africa in 1998, Sabre began to cultivate relationships with energetic African partner organizations interested in the kind of assistance Sabre’s Book Donation and Internet Training Programs have to offer. Sabre’s Africa work has led to an increasing number of book shipments and numerous participants in Internet training workshops.

Kim’s July trip took her to Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia. Advancing Sabre’s efforts on a number of different fronts, her first stop was in Nairobi, Kenya, where she supervised one of Sabre’s largest ever overseas Internet training workshops.

Sabre’s Nairobi workshop arose out of a request from SATELLIFE, a Boston-based non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on the health communication and information needs of countries in the developing world. SATELLIFE asked Sabre to conduct the "training of trainers" portion of their Kenya training program. Using a curriculum Sabre developed specifically for the three-day workshop, Kim and Sabre trainer Becky Schneider instructed 12 future trainers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

One of the trainees, Peter Okech, of Strathmore College in Kenya, was given additional training that will allow him to run the next "training of trainers" Internet workshop on his own.

While in Nairobi, Kim also turned her sights to advancing Sabre’s growing Africa book program. Meeting with Director Jephew Muranga of the Kenya Book Foundation, Kim laid the groundwork for a future partnership with the organization. Within weeks of this meeting, the Kenya Book Foundation had signed a formal partnership agreement to distribute Sabre books and other educational materials in Kenya.

Also of note from Kim’s trip was Sabre’s first ever visit to Amoud University in Somalia, one of the Foundation’s newest partners. Following her arrival in Borama, Kim assessed Amoud’s library and system for receiving and distributing books. She also met with the University’s president to discuss Amoud’s needs with regard to both books and technology.

Kim reports that Sabre’s Somali partners not only wish to continue the successful book program, they also hope to establish an electronic card catalogue of Amoud’s library holdings. In addition, they’ve asked for Sabre’s assistance in providing Internet training for the University’s staff and in developing a strategy for their own in-house training program. Amoud has also committed to establish, jointly with the city of Borama, a library open to the general public.

While Amoud’s goals present some hurdles, the University’s accomplishments so far lead Sabre to believe much more can be done. Kim’s visit concluded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding pledging continued cooperation.

Colin McCullough’s May trip took him to Africa’s west coast for site visits in Ghana and Liberia. The Phelps-Stokes Fund, co-funder of Sabre’s 2000 book shipment to Liberia, hosted Colin during the initial leg of his journey, which assessed the success of Sabre’s Liberia book program.

Colin first visited the Monrovia offices of Sabre’s Liberian partner, the Church-Related Educational Development Organization, Inc. (CREDO). Colin reports that despite extended periods without electricity or phone service, CREDO’s warehouse and distribution facilities are well organized and efficient. CREDO has even set up a small public library from which local patrons who sign up for a library card can borrow books.

In addition to reviewing CREDO’s own facilities, Colin visited a number of recipient institutions to see first-hand the impact of Sabre’s donations. These included the University of Liberia and other universities, schools and libraries in Monrovia.

Moving on from Monrovia, Colin next paid a visit to Sabre’s partners at the Ghana Book Trust (GBT) in Accra, Ghana. Executive Director Robert Amoako gave Colin an extensive tour of GBT’s own warehouse and office facilities and also arranged visits to various university and graduate-level recipient institutions.

Colin also reports that GBT is building on its grounds what will be the first exclusively children’s library in Ghana. Sabre looks forward to helping GBT fill the shelves.

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