SAINT PAUL, Minn., March 31, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tom Warth, who emigrated to the U.S. from the United Kingdom in 1960, sold his automobile book publishing company in Osceola, Wisconsin in 1988 to embark upon a journey around the globe. Tom's visit to a Ugandan library in Jinja, where books were almost nonexistent, inspired him to create a system for collecting discarded books from American schools, libraries, and publishers to send to Africa. Tom's idea to do something that would have an impact on the students of Africa - to end the book famine - became the mission of Books For Africa (BFA).
In the intervening 28 years, BFA, with offices in St. Paul and Atlanta, has become the largest shipper of books to the African continent. Since 1988, it has shipped more than 35 million books to 49 countries.
Last month Warth and BFA Executive Director Patrick Plonski returned to that same library in Jinja to celebrate the founding of Books For Africa 28 years ago. Since Warth's first visit in 1988, more than 1.5 million books have been sent to Uganda, with hundreds going to the library in Jinja.
"The millions of books have provided educational empowerment to countless children and African communities," Warth said, reflecting on BFA's history. "But there are 500 million children in Africa. That's a lot of kids who need books and who need an education, so our work is far from done."
The visit to Jinja came after Warth led more than 25 people in a walk across the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, in early February to raise money, deliver books and help end the book famine in Africa.
The walk coincided with Warth's 80th birthday. He has frequently led long walks to promote BFA. In 2012 he led a group of walkers across The Gambia in West Africa. He has walked across Wisconsin, the width of Minnesota and from Iowa to the Canadian border. For his 70th birthday, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. The 20-mile Zanzibar Walk took participants from Chwaka to Stone Town.
Among the walkers were David Robinson, son of the late baseball icon Jackie Robinson, who has lived in Tanzania since 1981. Robinson directs a cooperative of 200 small coffee farmers which sells coffee in the U.S. He has also been instrumental in building the Bara Village Multimedia Education, Training and Entertainment Center, an educational center for over 2,000 primary and secondary students, and a training center for farmers, women's groups and youth organizations.
As part of the walk project, BFA sent 5,000 books for students at the center and surrounding schools. In all, the walk will deliver 65,000 books to Zanzibar.
Thomson Reuters, whose law division is located in Eagan, MN, has sent a law library to the only law school on Zanzibar – the Zanzibar University Faculty of Law and Shariah. The dean of the law school was among the walkers. Additional law books from Sweet & Maxwell, the British Division of Thomson Reuters, will be sent to the law school.
Photos accompanying this release are available at:
CONTACT: Doug Stone, 651-336-9907 (mobile) Patrick Plonski, 651-291-2713 (office)Source: Books forAfrica