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In less than two short years, Give A Textbook, a Melbourne-based not-for-profit charity, has made more of an impact than many such organisations ten times its age. Founded by Samantha Bonney, Give A Textbook collects books from Australia to distribute in the Philippines to people who lack access to academic and other literature.

Need, despair inspire Filipino-Aussie woman to found organisation

Samantha Bonney, whose extended family still resides in the Philippines, discovered during her many visits that there were still Philippine communities that struggled with access to basic literacy. Students in many Philippine high schools have to awaken before the sun peeks through the horizon, do a full day’s work, and walk for an hour through rugged terrain just to attend class. When they get there, tired and hungry, they often find that their school lacks resource books to support their education. Stories that testify to these sorts of hardships fill the space on Give A Textbook’s Facebook Page.

As in so many other countries, prisoners in Philippine correctional facilities, too, lack the resources to access an education—which could be the key to their making a decent living once they’re on the outside. Without meaningful work, these ex-prisoners are at risk of reoffending.

In 2016, Samantha Bonney founded Give A Textbook to address these two concerns. In doing so, she helped to solve another problem—Australia’s growing mountain of books that end up in landfills.

Recycled books bring hope to Filipino learners

Give A Textbook repurposes new and used books that Australian schools and communities no longer use to distribute among Philippine schools and government institutions. Their first project, conducted in March 2017, enjoyed success beyond even its founder’s wildest dreams. Australian libraries, bookshops, and schools donated more than 7,000 books and other reading materials to their Philippine counterparts in her mother’s province, Negros Occidental.

Recycled books, computers help inmates envision life free from crime

Not only did the Foundation donate books, but with the aid of the Consuelo Foundation, a US-based organisation, they also donated desktop computers to the inmates in the region’s prisons. The Consuelo Foundation installed computer-based e-skills learning modules on each of the computers.

Their second project reached way beyond Negros Occidental to communities in Manila and many remote regions, providing Filipinos with more than 8,000 books. So far, the organisation has recycled 15,000 books to 34 schools and other Filipino institutions. These books have impacted the lives of more than 34,000 learners and 1,400 teachers at last count. This number continues to grow as recipients share books with other learners in the island nation.

Give A Textbook plans to distribute even more books in its third project, underway already in both countries. In partnership with large corporations that have ties to both countries, Give A Textbook has begun sponsored book drives to collect books, which the organisation will distribute throughout the Philippines in May 2018.

Companies and schools still have the opportunity to get in on this exciting project that promotes sustainability—an important goal for all Australians—and education for people in an economically-deprived corner of the world. To become a sponsor or donor, contact the Give A Textbook team at info@giveatextbook.org or call them on +61 403 471 123.

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