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Sabre Initiatives in Africa
Sabre’s Michael W. Christian Program for Africa was officially launched at a gala dinner in Washington in March 1998, addressed by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Congressman Benjamin Gilman, USIA Director Joseph Duffey, Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan, and former Secretary of Transportation William Coleman. (Shipments had already been sent to Tanzania and Zambia under the Christian program in 1997.) Shipments were dispatched to Ghana and Liberia in 1998, and plans were made for three more - to Angola, Ghana, and South Africa - in the first half of 1999. New country programs explored during the year included Algeria, Kenya and Somalia.
- Algeria. At the urging of American Ambassador Cameron Hume and his staff in Algiers, and with funding from the Embassy, Sabre conducted a study to determine the feasibility of developing a donated books program for Algerian libraries and universities. Project Director Tania Vitvitsky and Secretary Charles Getchell spent four days in Algiers in October, meeting with senior officials of the National Library, the University of Algiers, a private business management school, a community library, and individuals prominent in education and the professions. They found a strong interest in a wide range of books from children’s to technology - especially books in the English language. Funding for an Algerian program is being sought as this report goes to press.
- Angola. In cooperation with the Boston-based Angola Educational Assistance Fund, Sabre began planning for a shipment of library and classroom books to be delivered to the newly- established Catholic University of Angola in early 1999.
- Kenya. Irene Danysh, Sabre’s representative in the region, is working on a possible shipment to the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi. Dr. Madara Ogot of Rutgers University (who attended the Washington dinner) undertook to raise funds for a shipment to Kenya, with matching funds provided by the Arthur Dubow Foundation.
- Liberia. Sabre sent a first shipment to the Church-Related Educational Development Organization (CREDO), a non-profit partner organization in Monrovia. Seed funding for this project to assist schools and universities in war-ravaged Liberia was provided by Sabre Steering Committee member John Archibald.
- Somalia. Sabre explored funding for a shipment requested by Amoud University, a new university in Borama, Northwest Somalia (Somaliland). Of the 262 courses described in the Amoud University catalogue, texts suitable for over 60 per cent of the classes were identified in Sabre’s inventory.
- South Africa. With private funding in hand, Sabre initiated a book donation program in South Africa to benefit sixteen Historically Disadvantaged Institutions - nine universities and seven technikons (institutions of higher education with a vocational focus) - with a particular concentration on the development of legal education. Sabre’s partner, the Foundation for Library and Information Service Development (FLISD), targeted the first of four planned shipments to the four recipient institutions closest to Pretoria: Vista University, University of the North, University of Venda, and Technikon Northern Gauteng.
- Books for Africa. Cooperation continued with this Minneapolis-based organization, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1998. Cooperative shipments to selected countries in Africa were discussed for 1999, particularly to Ghana and to the Books For Africa/Sabre partner organization, the Ghana Book Trust. Books For Africa also provided partial funding for the Sabre shipments to Tanzania and Zambia.
Robert Kowalczyk, Director, Books For Africa (right) with Elmanus Vodoti of the Embassy of Kenya (left) and Senator Eugene McCarthy in September, 1998. (Photo courtesy of Books For Africa)
Congressman Benjamin Gilman, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, commended Sabre on the cost-effectiveness of its programs and the timeliness of its Africa initiative at the Michael W. Christian Dinner.
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