3 November 2008

Indonesian students from The University of Queensland are embarking on an ambitious plan to collect 1.5 tonnes of books to help disadvantaged kids back home.

The English Books for Indonesian Children initiative is organised by the UQ Indonesian Student Association and coordinator, UQ student Mika Halpin Hasanah, said it involved book hunting at various venues and culminated in an annual group donation to disadvantaged Indonesian schools and libraries.

"UQISA members regularly visit book festivals, markets, garage sales, school fetes and warehouses to buy second-hand books at a lower cost," Ms Hasanah said.

"In 2007 we collected books throughout the year and shipped them in early December to the many communities who applied for book donations."

But the program didn’t stop when the books were handed over, as the students monitored the fate of each book, including where and how they were used, who managed them and general usage progress.

"We have identified potential partners in Indonesia, including the UQ alumni and education networks of UQ Indonesian students, to distribute and facilitate the use of the books at schools in Indonesia," she said.

"One recipient school in the East Kalimantan province reported that the books were useful not only for students but also for teachers to learn and teach English."

The event was nationalised in 2008, after Indonesian Student Associations from Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney joined the effort.

"During 2007, over 4800 books weighing no less than 830kgs were sent to at least 15 disadvantaged schools and libraries spread across the Indonesian provinces," Ms Hasanah said.

To help trump the 2007 yield, people can donate English books for beginners or children and secondary school or university level textbooks for all subjects, including biology, natural sciences and maths.

The UQISA also accepts donations of any kind, from financial and volunteer contributions, to stationery for packaging and shipping purposes.

"The success of the book drive depends on our volunteers' commitment and passion, and we highly appreciate any help provided, be it your time, money or expertise," Ms Hasanah said.

To find out more about the initiative or become involved, please contact Mika on 0404 609 008, Asti on 0401 798 843 or visit http://bukuuntukanakbangsa.blogspot.com.

Media: Melanie Sullivan at UQ Communications (0439 366 001).