2 Mar 2017

Motorbike Book Club

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:34 pm on 2 March 2017

Two sisters are delivering books by motorbike to children living in some of Vietnam's poorest villages.

Hayley Morrison, a 24-year-old student working for a masters in international development, began the The Motorbike Book Club a mobile literacy project with her older sister, Tamra Ewing after visiting Vietnam's Thua Thien-Hue province two years ago.

Once a week a volunteer loads up the back of a motorbike with a collection of books that have been translated into English.

Morrison says many of the titles are familiar to Kiwi readers, such as the Spot series, or Puff the Magic Dragon.

The kids and their families are then invited to browse through the books and select one to keep for a week, returning it when the Motorbike Book Club visits a week later.

Morrison says the villages they’re sending books to are pretty stark.

“A lot of them are fishing villages, families of up to 7 are living on the same boat. They have issues related to sanitation and food as well as education.”

Morrison and her sister run the organisation out of Auckland, but have staff on the ground working with a partner organisation, Hearts for Hue.

“They have a fantastic team of volunteers and a really robust recording system.

“For every village that we go to, we actually get a weekly report that details, you know, how many children attended, how many books were returned, how many books were damaged, as well as things like quotes and photos from children just to make sure things are ticking along."

Morrison says her role within the organisation focuses on fundraising, while her sister is in charge of sourcing books.

The organisation has managed to keep its operating costs quite low - only about $200 to $300 a month to run.

Last year they had had to dig into their own pockets to set the charity up, but had been overwhelmed by support this year.

She says they’re focusing on doing a good job for the villages they are already operating in before scaling up.

“For example we’re looking at sourcing books for teenagers in the villages that we’re in.

“We’re looking at doing a monthly shared lunch, firstly to engage the parents, because that has been a challenge, but also because it affects learning if children are hungry.”

Morrison says neither she, nor her sister, expected the charity to gain as much momentum as it has.

“It started as a nice side project that my sister and I could invest some energy and time into.

“It has the potential to grow into something I could really devote more time to.

To donate books or money to the Motorbike Book Club, visit the website here.

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