April 28, 2003: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Appleton Post Crescent: PCV Ole Nelson raises money to renovate and expand the library in Malawi

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malawi: Peace Corps Malawi : The Peace Corps in Malawi: April 28, 2003: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Appleton Post Crescent: PCV Ole Nelson raises money to renovate and expand the library in Malawi

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PCV Ole Nelson raises money to renovate and expand the library in Malawi

PCV Ole Nelson raises money to renovate and expand the library in Malawi

Daughter’s love of books feeds appetite for learning in Africa

When Ole Nelson was growing up in Neenah, you rarely saw her without a book in hand, or a library pass.

Now, with a little help from donors back home, the 24-year-old has opened a library on the far side of the globe, and is on her way to putting thousands of books in the hands of children hungry to read.

Just like her.

Ole graduated from Neenah High School in 1997, and Grinnell College in 2001. She joined the Peace Corps, and in October 2001 landed in Malawi, Africa, known for its torrential rains and terrible droughts, and for being the poorest peace loving country in the world.

Ole taught math and history to the young people of Chikangawa. She lived among them without electricity in subsistence conditions, but this book lover would not accept the absence of a library.

After the village chieftain granted her permission to fill an abandoned building with books, Ole went to someone she knew she could trust to find the funds — her mom, Neenah High guidance counselor Cindy Nelson.

Cindy found willing donors in fellow teachers, the Kiwanis Club and the school’s National Honor Society and Key Club members, who did book drives and storytelling projects.

“The kids just grabbed it and ran with it,” she says. “They’re amazing.”

They raised $2,000 to reroof the building, add glass windows and doors, and finance mailing 1,200 pounds of books.

Chikangawa Community Library opened in February. Its new shelves hold 1,500 titles, from classics like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and Shakespeare’s plays to the Berenstain Bears series, plus teacher manuals with a most precious commodity in Malawi — pictures.

Ole is thrilled and so is her mom. “In letters, she says the kids are just ecstatic to carry a book home,” says Cindy.

This summer the entire Nelson family will visit Ole to work with her in her village.

They will deliver a globe inscribed to the people of Chikangawa from the people of Neenah.

Meanwhile, Cindy continues to raise money to further renovate and expand the library, and fund postage for more books to fill it.

“This has been so much fun,” she says. “It’s amazing how little it takes to do a lot for them.”

Those who wish to donate to the library fund can contact her at cnelson@neenah.k12.wi.us.

Kathy Walsh Nufer writes a weekly education column. She can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext, 290, or by e-mail at knufer@postcrescent.com

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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Story Source: Appleton Post Crescent

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Malawi



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