South African Mobile Library Association

The South African Mobile Library Association (SAMLA) was initiated by Alumni Club members (ex-ASSET/EDSA bursars) to bring the world of books, literacy and learning to young children in the townships and squatter camps of the Western Cape. As a first initiative, a community-based children's library has been set up in 3 refurbished containers in a central location in Gugulethu township, manned entirely by volunteers, where the children enjoy reading, story-telling and drama sessions.

EDSA raised funds to convert and furnish the three containers and to support supervised visits and camps arranged by the volunteer staff for these young people, most of whom have never had such opportunities before. EDSA has also provided funding for books. Being based in a container is innovative but has its down side - in particular the heat in the summer and condensation.  Further funding from EDSA has recently refurbished the containers to make them water tight and to add better facilities - this was enabled by several fundraising events.

SAMLA outsideSAMLA outside SAMLA foundersSAMLA founders

The Library offers local children a chance to hear story telling, to do drama, to read books which they otherwise cannot access. Even school books are scarce in the townships and other books are not a feature in the homes. Older young people use the library for homework and for meetings and discussions. The community have the opportunity to use it for information and support.  SAMLA has recently taken a group of children to a residential to read and write their own stories.  These were so successful that the "World of Books" in Cape Town are in the process of publishing them as a small booklet - watch this space.......

The Library urgently needs funds to support sustainable staffing if it is to guarantee regular sessions for the children, young people and the community. EDSA is delighted to have been able to fund a SAMLA Development worker and we are keen to encourage this local community based initiative to continue to flourish. Staffing is an ongoing need.  For further information on how to support SAMLA please contact the EDSA Trustees, c/o 14 Riverside Road, Oxford, OX2 0HU, Tel: 01865 248 189, email: