Books For Africa (BFA) dedicated its new Atlanta warehouse with a grand opening on June 26, 2021. Millions of donated books from all over the country are sorted, packed and shipped each year from the Atlanta warehouse to the Port of Savannah, where they are sent by cargo ship to students throughout Africa. Approximately 10,000 volunteers pack books at the Atlanta warehouse each year.
The African Union Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Hilda Suka-Mafudze, served as the keynote speaker at the warehouse grand opening, with additional remarks by BFA Board President Joni Sussman, of Lerner Publishing Group, BFA Founder Tom Warth, and BFA Executive Director Patrick Plonski. The event took place against the backdrop of the celebration of the African Union 2021 theme of the year, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.”
Ambassador Suka-Mafudze also met with BFA leadership to discuss collaborative opportunities for improving educational opportunities across Africa. She praised BFA “for its noble mission and its unwavering commitment to education and a strong belief in Africa.” The Ambassador cited the late United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan who said the gift of a book is a gift of hope and “no development tool is more effective than education and literacy. When people are able to access education, they can break free from the cycle of poverty.” Ambassador Mafudze added that the African Union Commission partnership with Books For Africa is an eloquent recognition of the instrumental role that culture plays as a catalyst for the sustainable socio-economic development of the continent.
“I’ve been involved with Books For Africa for a number of years,” said Board President Joni Sussman. “As a publisher of children’s books, this organization really touches my heart. I was on BFA on a trip to South Africa a couple of years ago, where we visited schools thar had received BFA book donations. At one school, in a township not far from Cape Town, a shipment of books from Books For Africa had arrived, and was spread out on the school lawn when we arrived. The children, ages 8 and 9, were given the opportunity to select books of their choice to take home. For many, this was the first book they’d ever owned and they were wide-eyed. They were so excited to pick out their books, which were in English, and I was amazed to learn that these children not only could read English – I asked one little girl to read to me – but would be taking the books home to read to their parents, many of whom couldn’t read. For these children, English was their third language, after Afrikaans and their local African language. I was very moved by their desire to learn English, which they were being taught would help them get ahead in the world and bring good things to Africa.”
Books For Africa is the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent and has shipped over 51 million books and served all African countries, since its founding in 1988. BFA has been rated as one of the top NGO’s in the United States by Charity Navigator. Partnerships with members of the African diaspora in the U.S. and across the world have been critical to BFA’s success, with African diaspora members serving on the board, raising funds, organizing container shipments, and providing connections to African countries.
More Information about Books For Africa
Visit the official Books For Africa website here!
Publishers Weekly wrote this article on the new Books For Africa warehouse.
Read more about Joni Sussman’s trip to South Africa in this Lerner Blog post.