By Brecken Branstrator
Roger Dery Gem Design and nine retailers across the country have been collecting books to donate to the Kitarini Maasai Children’s School in Tanzania. It has 450 students, a few of whom are pictured here.
Royal Oak, Mich.--Roger Dery Gem Design and nine jewelry stores have been collecting books to stock a traveling library for the Kitarini Maasai Children’s School in Tanzania.

The school, located in the rural Longido district of northern Tanzania, opened in 2010 and has 450 children between the ages of 5 and 14, most of whom walk 3 to 5 km two times a day to go to school.

The staff includes just one headmaster and four teachers, and the school currently has less than 50 books.

Nine retailers across the country have helped with the book drive by telling their local community and customers about it and setting a goal to fill a suitcase with 50 books, new or used. 

Participating jewelry stores so far include the following.
--Apland Jewelers, Hood River, Ore.
--Becky Beauchine Kulka Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, Okemos, Mich.
--Calhoun Jewelers, Royersford, Pa.
--Devon Fine Jewelers, Wyckoff, N.J.
--Janel Russell Designs, St. Paul, Minn.
--K-Jon’s Fine Jewelers, Atascadero, Calif.
--Panowicz Jewelers, Olympia, Wash.
--Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, West Bloomfield, Mich.
--The King’s Jewelers, Walnut Creek, Calif.

The books that are being contributed include picture books, early reader chapter books, workbooks and coloring books designed for readers from preschool to fifth grade by American standards. 

In January, Roger Dery, owner of Roger Dery Gem Design, will take his 25th trip to Africa with some of the jewelry store owners who helped collect the books and will deliver them personally to the school’s headmaster.

Because the drive saw such a strong response, with the jewelry stores raising enough books to max out the number of suitcases that they are able to take to Africa, at this time they are not able to accept further contributions from other stores, though they may hold a similar campaign again in the future, at which time other stores could participate.

“I have visited the Kitarini School 12 times and it is still an emotional day for me every time I visit,” Dery said. “These children touch my heart deeply each time I meet them. Their hearts are so innocent, genuine, and hungry for learning and love. I want to give them that learning and love however I can. When the headmaster told me about their extreme lack of books, I knew what I would do.”


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