The “Books for Congo” Project
UPF BOOKS DELIVERED TO THE GREAT UNIVERSITY LIBRARY IN BRAZZAVILLE, CONGO
By: Rev. Jacques Marion
On the morning of November 10, 2014, the books collected by the UPF and WFWP chapters in France, with the help of Peace ambassadors, were officially delivered to the « Great University Library » of Marien Ngouabi University, the main public institution of higher learning in the Republic of Congo.
The « Books for Congo » project was organized at the request of UPF-Congo, with the support of the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Congo at UNESCO. In August, a container of 45,000 books was sent to Brazzaville, including a large variety of general knowledge books for youth and adults alike, as well as a great quantity of school books. The donors in France included individuals and associations, publishing houses and bookstores, schools and universities.
A fruit of the Congo-China cooperation, the Great University Library is the largest library in the country. A majestic, three-story building, it was inaugurated in March 2013 by President Sassou Nguessso, and opened its doors at the beginning of the academic year 2013-2014.
The day before the donation ceremony, 800 cartons of books arrived by truck from the port of Pointe Noire and were unloaded overnight by UPF volunteers and library staff. They filled up library hallways, waiting for books to be sorted out and distributed to their assigned rooms.
The official donation ceremony was attended by a representative of the minister of education, university officials, library staff and UPF leaders, local Peace Ambassadors and volunteers. UPF-Africa was represented by Mrs. Kathy Rigney, UPF continental director; Dr. Dong-ho Cho, director for Africa-West, and Mr. Adama Doumbia, UPF secretary-general for Africa. UPF-Congo was represented by its chairman, His Excellency Maurice Nguesso, elder brother of the President of Congo; Rev. Shang-seong Park, UPF special emissary to Congo; Peace Ambassadors from the executive committee, including Vice Chairman Julien-Francis Moufonda, and by newly assigned Secretary-General Clément Tsana.
After a speech by Secretary General Adama Doumbia introducing UPF and its fundamental values, Mr. Jacques Marion, president of UPF-France, gave a report on the three-month book collection process. He told of the encouragements received from Congolese expatriates in France, who warmly endorsed the project, and shared his vision that the project will continue and expand, providing both educational resources in Africa and an experience in service and solidarity for school students in France.
He then gave a sample of the books to H.E. Maurice Nguesso, who symbolically received the donation and turned it over to the representative of the minister of education. Mr. Jean- François Olakouara, the director of the Great University Library, then received the books and offered words of gratitude to UPF. Although primarily a university institution, he said, the library would open its doors to the larger public and function as a national level library, providing opportunities for school students of all ages and classes to gain access to the books. He encouraged other NGOs to follow the UPF example in making book donations.
University and library officials then offered diplomas of « Honorary Reader » to Mrs. Sun Jin Moon, World Mission Chairperson of the FFWPU, and to UPF international leaders. Afterwards, everyone was taken through a short visit of the book storage and to a reception, where H.E. Maurice Nguesso offered gifts to UPF international leaders in a gesture of gratitude for their support to his country and to UPF-Congo.
Based on this first, successful donation, the UPF « Book for Congo » project will gradually expand to other nations. Ongoing evaluation will be made of its efficiency, so that the project can be refined and focused on the needs of local youth.