On June 8th, 2013, Books, Bicycles and Banana Trucks was published for Kindle.
The book began with a blog, updated from 2006-2008. Or, more accurately, the book began when Richard Bates decided that he needed a change from life as a primary school teacher in Yardley Wood and applied to join VSO’s volunteer jobs scheme.
After months of application process then training, he set off for the East African country, Eritrea, in September 2006, to work as an English methodologist for the Ministry of Education in the region of Gash Barka. A friend set up a blog for him but he rarely posted anything himself (since he lived in a town with scarce electricity and no telephone lines, let alone internet access), instead relying on sister, Linda, to create posts from the letters that he sent.
With the blog as a basic skeleton, Linda has now added Richard’s letters and journals, along with a few blog posts of her own, to tell the story of how Richard found children keen to read and teachers keen to learn about English methodology, stymied by a lack of resources including, most importantly, books themselves. Inspired by the possibility of creating a tangible legacy to benefit generations of children, Richard called on family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances in the UK to find books for Agordat.
With local press running appeals and schools donating entire reading schemes, the book appeal took on a life of its own.
Read all about the journey of the books, the birth of the four Agordat libraries in a detailed and vivid account of life in a country that far too few foreigners are able to visit.