BY HOOK OR BY BOOK: Alison Johnson hopes to collect 3,000 books for the impoverished Jamaican town of Albion and eventually raise enough money to build a library to house them in.
A mother of four has started the long process of building a library for an impoverished Jamaican community – one book at a time. Alison Johnson, 44, spent two weeks on the Caribbean island in April volunteering on a parenting and education programme. In the poor rural town of Albion she was touched by the poverty and lack of resources children and adults had access to. Mrs. Johnson, from Mitchley Avenue, Sanderstead, was particularly moved when she handed a four-year-old boy a book.
“He looked like I'd given him gold, his mouth was wide open," she recalled. I thought 'this is crazy'. I think in our society we have such an abundance of books they have become invisible. To read is to know and I think we take it for granted how a book can change our life”. "Everyone has at least one book lying around they don't read any more, so I'm like the book fairy, collecting as many as I can!"
Mrs. Johnson, who works with disaffected youths in Croydon, has been inundated with donations since returning to Britain and has collected more than 500 books so far. Her aim is to collect around 3,000 books, which she will have shipped out to Jamaica.
In the long term she hopes to raise enough money to build the town a library in which the books can be stored. She said: "It will be an ongoing project, but I think 3,000 is enough for the first delivery and should keep everyone happy for a bit.”People are being generous. I think it appeals to people because everyone's always asking for money, so to ask for a book is quite different. "Here we can pick one up cheaply at bookshops, charity shops and online – the community in Jamaica don't have that luxury”.
"Our society doesn't really value them as highly as this community would. They would be prized possessions." In a bid to collect more books, Mrs. Johnson has set up a free community event on Saturday July 24, at Norbury Manor Primary School, in Abingdon Road, Norbury.
There will be live music, youth dance performances, singing and rapping and spoken word performers from 7-9pm. Visitors are asked to donate a book as a fee for attending. To donate a book to the cause e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07549 115810.