The United States Embassy in Rwanda has launched the fifth edition of its “Everybody Reads Rwanda” campaign, an annual programme started in 2012 to support the ongoing government efforts to create a culture of reading in the country by encouraging as many people as possible to read and discuss a specific book every year.
The campaign has brought in five books; A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (2012); The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (2013); Charlotte’s Web, a children’s novel by American author EB White (2014); and A Wrinkle in Time, a science fantasy novel by American writer Madeleine L’Engle (2015).
This year’s book is entitled, Number the Stars, written by American author Lois Lowry.
As is the case with the previous editions, the US embassy has distributed 500 copies of the book to schools, English teachers, libraries, and other groups as part of the Everybody Reads Rwanda campaign.
Set in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1943, this 1990 Newbery award winning book tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who, with the help of her family, undertakes a dangerous mission to save her best friend from being discovered by the Nazis.
The embassy selected the book because of its timeless and inspirational themes: friendship, courage, fear, that characterised a Danish family, during the Nazis occupation in 1943, which compared to some families in Rwanda in 1994, when the country was plunged into war and the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“This book is a true story with fictional characters that teach us that we can be good even if we are surrounded by evil people, we can make right choices even if others are making wrong ones. It teaches us to help and becoming responsible people in society,” Erica J. Barks-Ruggles, the US ambassador to Rwanda, told students at the launch.
The campaign launch, at the US Embassy in Kigali, on Thursday, was graced by Education ministry director of cross-cutting programmes Sylivie Uwimbabazi, US embassy officials, educators, civil society partners, and secondary school students.
Also on hand to participate during the launch was Mashirika, a creative and performing arts group that delivered an emotional reenactment of scenes from the book.
Uwimbabazi said a good reading culture develops people’s vocabularies as well as gives them good understanding of different cultures in the world.
She expressed gratitude to the embassy for its various initiatives that help enhance education in Rwanda.
During the next month, representatives from the US Embassy will be leading book discussions in high schools, ‘American Corners,’ and institutions across the country.