Creation of a library for Congolese Refugees in Rwanda

A project by: Nieves Zuniga



from 11 donors

This project received donations on Tue 01 Aug 2017
Unleashing the power of books in a Congolese Refugee Camp in Rwanda

A short summary of MY project

I’m raising £1000 to create a library in Nyabiheke Congolese Refugee Camp in Rwanda. This project will benefit 14,327 people. Refugees depend on the UNHCR to cover their basic needs of food and clothes, they don’t have permission to work and in many ways they are isolated from the world. This library has an amazing potential to change refugees lives providing access to reading and learning resources, and it will create volunteer job opportunities in the camp. To have the basic needs covered is of crucial importance, but it is not enough to fulfill human desires and dreams. This library will be food for their souls!

Who AM I?

My name is Nieves and I received my PhD from the Department of Government at the University of Essex. As a political scientist I pay attention to socio-political issues happening in the world. I specially love doing research, try to answer the ‘why’s, compare realities, connect the dots and, above all, look at what it works. But I also believe that, in today world, social and political problems, and specially the suffering of people, cannot serve only to feed an intellectual debate. We all, as individuals, can do something to make this world better. No action to help and share is small.

MY story

In the summer 2016 I went to Rwanda to collect data for the project I was working on. Aside my project, I had the opportunity to visit Gihembe Congolese Refugee Camp in the Northern province of Rwanda. Through talking with the people in the camp I realized how difficult the life of refugees is, not only for being basic in material terms, but because they are deprived from the world and from their capacity to plan their lives and reach their potential. Specially when I met a group of young refugees in the outskirts of the camp (see picture below), I felt how demotivated and down they were, since their lives completely depend on others and they feel powerless about it.

There are more than 72,000 people living in Congolese Refugee camps in Rwanda. Refugees depend financially on the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to cover their basic needs. Children get basic education. After that, the only thing refugees can do is to wait. They hope that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be solved one day or that they may soon be able to go to a place where they can fulfill their potential as human beings - beyond just surviving. But neither of those solutions is happening soon enough. Some of them have been born refugees and twenty years later they still are. The first Congolese Camp in Rwanda was established in 1997.

Whilst taking the bus back to Kigali, I was able to talk with Celestin Ngaruyinka, the founder of the Rwandan NGO Right Culture and the person who had introduced me to Gihembe Camp. This conversation inspired the idea of opening a library in one of the camps. The camp that offers the best conditions to open the library is Nyabiheke, located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda and established in 2005. The president and people in the camp got very excited with the idea and they fully support it.

Where will the money go?

Since I came back from Rwanda I have collected around 450 books for everybody (children, education, fiction, non fiction, art, dictionaries, science, history, spiritual, atlas, comics, etc) thanks to the generosity of many people.

If I hit my minimum target the money will cover the cost of sending books to Rwanda. - about £300

If I hit my full target the money will also cover the cost of paying a local carpenter to make the basic furniture to set up the library (bookshelves, desk, chairs). - about £1000

If I raise more than my target I will use it to send more books. Many people are offering to donate books but I cannot take more until I make sure that I am able to send the ones I already got. It would be amazing if in the future we can extend this project to other refugee camps!


There are awesome rewards to thank everyone who supports this project, whatever the amount you might give. Check them out!

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Please share this project with anyone you think would support it – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, on Whatsapp, in a chat over tea, coffee or beer, or on your blog.

If 300 people reading about this project donate £1, it will guarantee to send some of the books!

Thank you!