U.S.-Zambia Public Library Partnership Targets At-Risk Youth

A photo of Lubuto Library staff at the Mthunzi American Youth Library reading to children in a talking circle.
Photo: Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library in Lusaka/West was made possible with support from USAID/ASHA.
Photo courtesy of LLP

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 28, 2017
Chando Mapoma
+260 211 357000

LUSAKA — This year, the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID/ASHA) helped open the Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library, increasing access to quality education for all young people especially the vulnerable and out-of-school children in the Lusaka-West area of Zambia’s capital.

The Mthunzi American Youth Library, the fourth such facility developed by the U.S.-based non-profit organization Lubuto Library Partners (LLP), serves as public center offering programs that provide education, information, psychosocial support, and self-expression. USAID/ASHA awarded nearly $250,000 towards the development of the Lubuto Library at the Mthunzi Center, in line with its mission to provide assistance to schools, libraries, and medical centers outside the United States that serve as study and demonstration centers for American ideas and practices.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz, speaking at the library’s opening noted, “In line with the American vision of a world where all children and youth, including those with special needs and different abilities, are able to realize their right to a quality education and are empowered to reach their full potential, this library will promote a stimulating, supportive, and safe learning environment.”

The Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library is the first Lubuto Library center to receive USAID/ASHA support; moreover, it is also made possible by the direct donation of an additional $100,000 from a private American citizen, Mrs. Judy Feedham. This unique public-private partnership bolsters the positive relationship between citizens of both United States and Zambia.

Also speaking at the Mthunzi opening Lubuto President Jane Kinney said of the library, “In the time ahead, you will be able to find out for yourselves why this library is your special place. It is a safe place that is open to all of the children and youth in this community; a place where you all belong. If you have siblings or friends who are deaf or blind, this library is also for them.”

The addition of the Mthunzi center is indicative of the LLP’s ongoing mission to enlighten and enrich the lives of children and youth in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the four Lubuto Libraries in Zambia have reached more than 120,000 young people, with the Mthunzi Library playing host to more than 17,200 visitors since opening its doors in June 2017. Of the more than 15,000 children and youth that have participated in the specific programs offered at the various libraries, 71 percent are single or double orphans, 27 percent are out-of-school, and 8 percent are street children.  

In October 2016, LLP was selected as one of 56 winners of a PEPFAR/DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored, and Safe) Innovation Challenge grant that focuses on keeping adolescent girls in secondary school. Utilizing the Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library concurrently with its three sister facilities in Zambia, the two-year PEPFAR grant program aims to provide over 20,000 adolescent girls and young women with sexual and reproductive health information, educational support, and help to overcome gender practices that obstruct the full integration of girls and boys into society through greater social inclusion.

The Lubuto Mthunzi American Youth Library illustrates the ongoing cooperation between the governments of the United States and Zambia, U.S. organizations and private citizens, and local volunteers toward the empowerment of Zambia’s children and youth, helping them develop the knowledge and skills to better participate fully in their local communities and society. 

Last updated: May 16, 2018

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