Interview with Founders Nick Johnson and David Sommer at a recent ‘Books For Africa’ event.
During the event members of the public talk about what reading means to them, and what was their favourite book as a child…
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video prepared by Richard Budd of very first books to be delivered to Grace Secondary School and donated by Tamarind Books as part of its grand opening in Summer 2010.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Staff from Pelican Post partner charity Link Ethiopia ( recently returned from a trip to the region where they delivered books donated by pelican post supporters who attended various events held last year. 



They also made a trip to visit (and deliver books) to 2 remote village school communities near Lake Rana.  These village schools have a desperate shortage of books to fuel childrens learning and are almost wholly dependent on the services of a  travelling donkey library that makes regular visits to the area.   The books from this travelling library are currently stored in orange crates with many worn and in some state of disrepair through years of use.



The charity – Link Ethiopia is now supporting these schools with various projects underway including the delivery of brand new saddle bags to ensure the safer storage of the travelling book collection in the future.  

We  hope to report in more detail about the donkey library schools and their progress in the future through news updates from visiting staff.  In the meantime, thanks to Matt for these pictures and to pelican post supporters who helped to furnish both the schools and the donkey library with a fresh supply of brand new books to read…


 For more information about school projects in Ethiopia and how you can get involved, please visit Link Ethiopia at

One of the key aims of the Pelican Post project is for each participating school to receive 20 copies of the same story so that the teachers can practice shared classroom reading and the children can read the words and enjoy the pictures together.  For many, this may in actual fact mean sharing one book between 3 children in a typical classroom.   

Being able to enjoy the shared experience of reading a story together in this way represents a significant departure from more traditional methods of learning to read in the classroom,  and brings an exciting new dimension to a child’s learning experience and to that of the classroom as a whole.  

In addition to the books themselves, the teaching methods employed to stimulate a childs curiosity and attention are an integral part of promoting an environment where reading is seen as a pleasurable activity by a child and not just as a necessary education requirement to better themselves.

For this reason, the pelican post project aims to support school communities where it knows that there is dedicated teaching resource and regular support at the local level to assist the school teachers with the necessary tools and training so that they can properly harness and maximise the potential that these books can bring to inspiring a child’s appetite to learn.

We also believe that opportunities exist for all organisations working to support and improve standards of literacy to share information and practices on teaching reading initiatives.   (As teacher, psychologist and researcher Louisa Moats once said, “teaching reading is rocket science”)! 

Many of the partnering charities we support have a variety of  initiatives and schemes in operation.  In addition to these practices we have also supplied copies of two short but very well written guides prepared by the UK Charity Book Aid International ( specifically for teachers and librarians working in schools.

These guides collectively entitled ‘Bringing Books to Life’  deal with two specific aspects of the use of books in schools. 

The first guide ‘Starting and managing a book collection’ deals with storing books, setting up systems to lend books, and also deals with how books should be treated to help them last. 


The second guide ‘Using books in the classroom’ introduces five different approaches for using written material with students: reading aloud, shared reading, guided reading, group and independent reading.

Both guides are free for anyone to use and can be downloaded in pdf format direct from the charity website at or for hard copies by contacting them direct.   

Yet more Pelican Post books recently arrive at Ttula and Kasubi schools in Kampala, Uganda and the children didn’t waste any time in smiling for the cameras with their new glossy books 🙂 Thanks to Anisha for taking them and revealing a natural talent at photography!





Congratulations to school teacher Madinah Kakaire,who has just won a prestigous award for her teaching skills.  

Madinah teaches at one of the schools, Pelican Post supports – Ttula Primary School in Uganda.  This is her story courtesy of John Agaba at ‘The New Vision’ Newspaper, Kampala…

I was lucky to find her in one of her sessions. A teacher of the infant class, Kakaire was holding her lesson under a tree. Even with the distraction that comes with studying in the open space, every pupil had their attention to their teacher. She listened to them. She talked to them. Her hand holding a pupil’s hand and a pencil, Kakaire slowly helps the pupil to write letters of the alphabet in his book.

Community praise
Bashir Kalule, a Primary Six pupil at the school, is all praises for Kakaire.   “She has taught me to read and to read well. Even though she no longer teaches me, she still tells me to read. She usually offers me textbooks to read,” he says.   Kalule says this has helped him improve his command of the English language. “I can now stand in front of other pupils and speak confidently,” he adds.  Kalule commends Kakaire for helping him stay in school when the head teacher had sent him away because he had no paid school fees. “Dad wasn’t at home. I didn’t know what to do. But when I explained my situation to her, she allowed me to stay in class,’’ he says.

Sarah Nambalidwa, a Primary Seven pupil, says she loves Kakaire for her unwavering care. Nambalidwa is not the only person under Kakaire’s spell. Gorretti Kabakama, a parent, says her Primary two son, Levi Jasamba, is fond of Kakaire.  “The lad cannot stop talking about her teacher. My son is in good hands,” Kabakama says.

Emmy Tweyambe, Kakaire’s head teacher, has been with her supervisor for barely two years, but is already is full of praises for the teacher. He is lucky to have a deputy that is so effective. Kakaire is also a class teacher. And according to her supervisor, no other teacher can handle an infant class better than Kakaire.  Tweyambe adds that Kakaire’s attitude towards work is positive.

He says Kakaire spends more time at school than is stipulated. During this time she is mainly involved in preparing teaching materials.

Kakaire is also working with Katutandike Uganda, a project geared at encouraging Ugandans to read for pleasure. The project, now an NGO, provides reading materials to the member schools. Its members train children, the public and even other teachers on the benefit of reading for pleasure.  Tweyambe says his deputy is ever present at almost every school function. He describes her as calm, tolerant and talented.

Kakaire’s Story
Kakaire talks proudly of her profession. To her, watching her pupils recite the alphabet, write letters or short stories makes her day.  She derives her motivation from children. “I love sharing with children because so innocent. Their smiles are genuine. I can tell my pupil is happy or sad by just reading their work,’’ she says. She says her childhood teachers and foster parents inspired her.

Her uncle Hajji Kibedi, with whom she stayed, after her dad passed on was a teacher. She says Kibedi often told her she would make a good teacher. Born in 1976 in Bugweri, Iganga district to Zaitun Kakaire, kakaire is the third born of 33 children. Her dad, a sub county chief, died when she had just completed Primary Seven.  After obtaining a Grade Three certificate, she taught at Kawempe Decorous; then Kawempe Modern. She was a head teacher when she left Modern. She joined her current school in 2004.

Kakaire faced her biggest challenge as a teacher on reaching Ttula. Shifting from her life as a head teacher back to a classroom teacher was difficult. Besides, the new school was hard to reach. And it had a small population. However, she has weathered the storm. “I divide my pupils into small manageable groups to utilise the few copies of books we had. I supplement this with my own creative learning aids to make learning better,” she says.

To motivate her learners, Kakaire awards the best readers with stars. She draws the tally of these stars on a wall. (See earlier post on ‘reading for pleasure’).

Kakaire also brings her pupils’ creativity to life by teaching them how to make their own books. The pupils make the books from gunny bags (kavera) The teacher makes a mini exhibition, where the pupils show off their crafts. The pupils with the best craft is congratulated by the teacher in the presence of the whole class.

  Ttula school boy with a Pelican Post book.

Today I write of a school in Kenya that recently received a number of books bought by Pelican Post followers.  








“Lawson High School” is supported by UK based Hotcourses Foundation, and the books received will make an invaluable contribution to reading classes there.

Officially opened on the 2nd August 2010 by Hotcourses Founder and UK MP Jeremy Hunt, Lawson High School is located in the heart of the Kenyan bush in Nyumbani, Kitui district a three hour drive from the capital Nairobi.

Nyumbani village itself is an uplifting success story that has sought to restore the very fabric of Kenyan society torn apart by the AIDS pandemic, by providing shelter, social support, and education to the most neglected and vulnerable children. 

According to Director Mary Owens, before the village was built, “many of the children were destitute, roaming the villages begging or scavenging for food after their parents died, others were trying to look for siblings with no resources or parental guidance.”  

The Nyumbani Village, the Lawson High School and the Hotcourses Primary school, are now providing these children with a strong educational foundation, that will enable them to build a future that is filled with productivity and hope!  We at Pelican Post are excited to have been able to provide the school with a brand new collection of children’s story books bought by supporters who attended recent events held in the UK and hope to follow the school’s progress and pupils stories over the coming year as the children complete their very first year at Lawson High School.

Thanks too to Hotcourses Founder Jeremy Hunt MP for his time, enthusiasm and help in supporting and promoting the scheme.  As Jeremy comments “it just goes to show what a difference you can make if you really put your mind to it”.

MP and Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport – Jeremy Hunt with two members of the Pelican Post team – Nick Johnson and Julia Begnough.  

It is with some disappointment that I write today to inform supporters that sadly the Pelican Post did not make it through to the final of this years Digital Hero award.  However we certainly gave it our best shot and had enormous fun promoting the scheme and the award and most importantly raising further interest and awareness as well as obtaining many new supporters along the way….

A big thank you also to all the local (and international!) media support and especially Radio Stations BBC Surrey, Brooklands FM, Kestrel and Eagle Radio  for getting behind the Pelican campaign and allowing me free reign on the airwaves and for the Trinity Group, Surrey and Hants News, Surrey Advertiser and the Herald Newspapers for their support.

  -for Pelican Post radio warblings please click on the links below to play (may take a minute to load)…


 BBC Radio Surrey:

 Breakfast with Nick Wallis  

Brooklands Radio Broadcast

Radio Brooklands FM:

lunchtime with Suzanne Hunter


Kestrel Radio:

Breakfast Show with Dave Trumper






Nick Johnson, Founder of the Pelican Post has been  nominated for the Talk Talk Digital Hero of the Year Awards 2010 in association with Citizens Online and The Mirror Newspaper.

The awards celebrate people who use digital technology to bring about positive social change, and are open to the public to decide who wins.  Last year saw an incredible 30,000 public votes decide 12 winners.

Please vote for Nick (only takes 1 click) at:

Click ‘Vote now’ next to ‘Nick Johnson’ 

Nick needs to receive as many as votes as possible to go through to the final where an overall winner will be decided by a judging panel and crowned Digital Hero of the Year. 

If successful Nick and the Pelican Post Team will be able to use the funds to roll out a whole new programme of school links with schools across Africa and implement changes to the scheme that will further enhance delivery services to participating schools.  Crucially, the award will also help generate further awareness about the scheme and hopefully inspire more people to post a book.

As a teacher from one of the participating schools recently commented;

“Nick Johnson’s scheme is superb, well targeted and a sustainable one. Everyone wins and the scope for corruption is minimal. It deserves support.”

Voting closes at Midnight on the 12th November 2010, so please tell your friends and family to vote too…

The Pelican Post team are excited to welcome the Kaloko Trust and two new school profiles to the scheme;  Kwesha and Kandulwe Community Schools in the Luansobe Region (copper mining area) of Zambia. 

Established in 1995, The Kaloko Trust is dedicated to improving the lives of communities in rural Zambia where there is almost no government or other support for such communities.  In these areas, even a small amount of assistance can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.  Pelican Post supporters will hopefully provide much needed reading materials to two schools that are part of a major infrastructure programme implemented by Kaloko to extend basic health services, education and clean water by creating a network of satellite service centres in the remote villages around Luansobe.

The first phase of this programme includes the building of five community schools and health outposts together with ten boreholes and hand-pumps.  Kandulwe, Kwesha and Serenje are the first three villages to have benefited from the programme with these communities playing a strong part in providing free land, labour and building materials.  Almost 1000 children no longer need to walk several kilometres each day to attend a more distant school, whie 600 rural families will receive medical attention and have access to safe water near their homes.


                                                                                                              Childrend at Kwandule Community School smile for classroom photo


 As detailed in the school profiles and with many schools throughout rural Africa the hunger and enthusiasm for children to learn to read is high and the standards of reading ability achieved impressive given the limited number of resources and especially reading materials in the schools.  Kandulwe School currently has only a few books and no children’s story books.  It is exactly schools like this which will benefit enormously from the generosity of Pelican Post supporters to post a book, and we look forward to reporting further on the progress of the schools and the impact that the books received are having on school lessons and childrens aspirations.    If you would like to learn more about the many projects that Kaloko Trust supporting, please visit their website for more information at