Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Hello Friends and Family!
If anyone is interested in sending a book to us at our site, we would be very grateful. If you have an old book lying around the house that you think that we might enjoy, we would be very excited to receive it. We will also pass the books along to others in our village as well as to other volunteers.

Our address:
Jennie and Ben Bleckley
PO Box 870
South Africa

Thank you for your support!

Community Libraries Project

I've been working with three organizations in my village to create libraries that meet their needs. My lower primary school (grades K-4) has some books and we're working on organizing them in the computer room so some students can read while others use the computers and then swap half way through the period. The Phokwane Improvement League Rural Education Trust (PILRET) has a fairly large collection that our friend Katie and I recently finished organizing with the project manager Shocky. (By finished, I mean we finished with the hundreds place for dewey decimal and the Fiction section. We still need to do the tens and ones.) Shocky and I have sat down and planned our next moves for creating a library committee and making note cards for all the books. If everything goes according to plan, the community library will open in June. My other primary school (grades K-7) wants to get their learners reading more, but the only books they have are about 30 National Geographic photo journals of North America.

Luckily, fellow volunteer Rose Zulliger has been working on getting libraries for her schools and received a donation from Books for Africa of 35,000 books. She's sharing this bounty with me and 16 other volunteers. My primary school with the National Geographics is going to receive 1,100 books!

But we need your help. Each school is raising R1,500 (about $225) to help transport the books in a crate across the ocean. We need to raise another $5,000 to get it there. Rose has put together a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant to get that money. The grant is supported by individuals in the United States who can donate to projects of their choice on the Peace Corps website.

Please consider supporting this project. Thirty schools are receiving over 1,000 books each and all have Peace Corps volunteers to help the schools impliment and utilize the books. All schools had to submit a grant proposal in order to receive the books. The website for making a donation is here: Any amount helps, because we have the resources of 17 volunteers, so small donations will go a long way.

When all three libraries are operating, we hope to create an interlibrary loan system so members of any library can use all three with only one library card. We're very excited about this project!

Longtom Marathon

A big thank you to everyone who sponsored Jennie and I in the Longtom Marathon. Together, KLM raised $20,350 to send needy learners to a great private school in Mpumalanga province. We had a lot of fun running it with our friends and having an excuse to get together with them for a good cause.

I ran about half of the half marathon before my knee started really hurting and then spent some time both walking and running for the rest of the race. I was able to sprint into the finish line with a very ugly face.

I finished in 400th place with a time of 2:18:43.

Jennie walked the half marathon with our friend Katie and had a great time, though her feet were understandably tired.

Our own Adam Bohach ran the ultra marathon of 56km and came in 11th overall out of at least 467 runners - it was his first marathon. Good grief!