Books For Liberia

Robert+Saah+sorting+and+unloading+a+donation+of+books.+%28Photo+Credit+to+the+Compassion+For+African+Villages+Facebook+page.%29+
Robert Saah sorting and unloading a donation of books. (Photo Credit to the Compassion For African Villages Facebook page.)

Robert Saah sorting and unloading a donation of books. (Photo Credit to the Compassion For African Villages Facebook page.)

Robert Saah sorting and unloading a donation of books. (Photo Credit to the Compassion For African Villages Facebook page.)

Mayra Figueroa Vazquez, Staff Writer

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        Mesa College student Robert Saah and part-time English professor Brendan Praniewicz are co-running a project to send books and other school supplies to schools in Liberia affected by the Second Liberian Civil War.

        Aided by organizations such as Compassion for African Villages, Orphan International, and La Mesa Sunrise Rotary Club, Saah sent out a shipment of over 30,000 books in August 2017. Two more shipping containers located at San Diego State University have also been filled and are ready to ship.

        Praniewicz met and helped Saah jump-start the project back in spring of 2016. Saah entered The Vamps Writing contest held here at Mesa where he shared his story of survival and tragedy.

        “I like stories. I’m a writer, I teach writing and I just thought it was an amazing story and I wanted to help out as much as I could,” said Praniewicz of Saah’s story.  

        Saah came to the United States in 2003 as a refugee, escaping the civil war outbreak that hit his home. His father, a high school principal, was killed as a result of the war. Saah and his remaining family fled to Sierra Leone, a neighboring state, hoping to find their way to the United States.

        “It is my dream to bring books and school supplies back to my home country. This is a tribute to my father,” said Saah about his plans to travel back to Liberia to deliver the books and supplies to as many schools as possible.

         Praniewicz says that as a writer himself he was compelled to help make Saah’s vision a reality. Together they began spreading the word around campus, getting help from professors and their classes to help raise books for the project. However, Praniewicz had to temporarily step down from the project.

         Now Saah is working closely with SDSU professor Mark Wheeler, director and president of the non-profit organization Compassion for African Villages. Tsitsi Mutseta, a refugee from Zimbabwe who fled subsisted agriculture and disease, originally founded the organization. According to its Facebook page the container that was shipped in August arrive in Monrovia on Oct. 28 and is ready for distribution.

         Saah and his collaborators for the project plan to travel to Liberia between December of 2017 and January of 2018. They will start at the capital, Monrovia, then move on to the Foya District and neighboring cities. Saah will personally take part in the distribution of the books along with some members of CFV. This will be Saah’s first time back in Liberia since fleeing in 2003. Some of Saah’s future plans include delivering solar lights and computers along with other much needed supplies.

         

For those interested in aiding Saah’s efforts, you can visit Compassion for African Villages’ Facebook page or donate directly via Saah’s GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/school-supplies-for-liberia.

 

Robert Saah sorting and unloading a donation of books. (Photo Credit to the Compassion For African Villages Facebook page.)

 

Robert Saah (left) and volunteers loading book donations onto a shipping container headed to Liberia. (Photo Credit to the Compassion For African Villages Facebook page.)

 

Book donations packaged and ready to be shipped. (Photo Credit to the Compassion For African Villages Facebook page.)

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