We asked Kelvin to tell us about his journey of bringing books to his community, and the first thing he said proudly was ‘‘students and teachers call me e-reader!’’ His warm smile and positive outlook on life are infectious, and we want to share his story to inspire others.
Once in a while you meet someone with an extraordinarily big heart. Someone who takes it upon themselves to enrich the lives of others and spread happiness. Kelvin is someone like that. Of all places, we met Kelvin on Facebook. The Internet is increasingly connecting the world and communicating through Facebook with Kelvin, who lives in a small rural village in Kenya, feels like a particularly special connection. Most of the residents in Kelvin’s village cannot afford or even access quality education. Poverty levels are high and, when Kelvin was a student, he was regularly sent home from school as he could not afford to pay school fees. ‘‘Amidst the turmoil and embarrassment of always being singled out in the school as fee defaulter, I made up my mind to help others,’’ said Kelvin.
Today, Kelvin is spending a lot more time in school. Since 2013 he has been working for SAIDE Community and together with this organization, he has made it his personal mission to go above and beyond to improve the reading culture in his village. To do this, Kelvin and his colleagues created the ‘mobile library’. He explains, ‘‘we would carry physical books and past exam papers around the community to help students with homework and revision for exams.’’
‘‘Amidst the turmoil and embarrassment of always being singled out in the school as fee defaulter, I made up my mind to help others.’’
When Kelvin’s small village received 25 e-readers from Worldreader loaded with 5,000 e-books, the mobile library was revolutionized and Kelvin took on a new identity as ‘e-reader.’ Kelvin not only brings the e-readers around the village, but he also organizes regular out-of-class activities and community events to further encourage reading. He says the attendance is always tremendous. ‘‘Students like the e-reader because, unlike the physical books, e-readers are easy to carry and can be read in darkness or broad daylight.’’
Kelvin tells us that the e-reader is changing the reading culture in the community. ‘‘Most of the Chavakali people believe reading can only be in schools. When students fail to obtain good grades, they are deemed failures; hence, they become hopeless and engage in damaging activities such as using drugs and early sex.’’ Since the introduction of e-readers, things have changed. ‘‘You walk into the Chavakali market and find the business people reading as they wait for customers. Secondary students and primary school pupils use the e-reader to revise for their exams. Teachers use them for reference material, and the community members read vocational books.’’
Traveling costs are high so often times Kelvin simply walks around the village with his box of e-readers. He carries them in a box because his bag is worn out. ‘‘When students see me they call ‘e-reader! e-reader!’ in a unison chorus,’’ exclaims Kelvin.
‘‘When students see me they call “e-reader! e-reader!” in a unison chorus.’’
‘‘My whole social service life has and is characterized by hard work, diligence and honesty. I am driven by the fact that a service to humanity is the driving force behind a happy society.’’
Kelvin himself is an avid reader and is currently reading Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. He recently posted a quote from the book on his Facebook: ‘‘Most lives are not distinguished by great achievements. They are measured by an infinite number of small ones. Each time you do a kindness for someone or bring a smile to his face, it gives your life meaning.’’
It is clear that Kelvin’s life has exceptional meaning.