WHAT WE DO
READ International was founded in 2004 by students from the University of Nottingham when one student’s travels to Tanzania exposed him to the lack of resources in the country and led him to make a change.
We have evolved a lot since 2004 when it was just a couple of motivated and ambitious university students collecting books in the UK and bringing them to secondary schools in Tanzania. However, our mission has always stayed the same: we aim to address the distinct lack of access to educational resources in Tanzanian secondary schools.
READ was started by young inspired students and still today our organization has kept that youthful energy. We believe that young people have the ability to create change in their world and that education is the most powerful tool. We provide secondary schools with libraries by refurbishing old unused classrooms into inviting libraries and providing schools with the books they need for their students. Our libraries increase access to education for thousands of Tanzanian students, empower them to fulfill their potential, and improve their employment prospects in the future.
In the spirit of our humble beginnings, all of our work is carried about by Tanzanian university students looking to change their world.
READ International has donated over 1.4 million books to Tanzania and has created 82 libraries in Secondary Schools. To see our libraries, click here.
We are a small team at READ office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Find out a bit more about us below!
I oversee our Tanzania Programmes and am thrilled to be working for such an innovative and dynamic organisation; in February 2013 we launched a volunteer library renovation programme for Tanzanian students! I first volunteered with a Tanzanian NGO while I was at university and I am excited to offer a similar experience to young Tanzanians. I have over 13 years’ experience in the international development sector in both the UK and Tanzania.
A book that changed my life: If this is a Man, by Primo Levi. An autobiographical story of Primo’s 11-month captivity at Auschiwitz from 1944 to 1945. Of the 650 Jewish prisoners moved from Modena (Italy) in 1944, Primo was among 20 that survived the war. As a history buff I really appreciate reading about a historical event from one person’s perspective, and Primo describes in detail what it was like to live as a prisoner in the concentration camps. Although sombre, it’s a great reminder of the strength of human dignity and spirit in the face of adversity.
My primary responsibility as READ International’s Programmes & Volunteer Manager is to oversee the management of the volunteer library refurbishment program in Tanzania. I moved to Tanzania in August of 2012 and I haven’t looked back since. Before joining READ International, I was a volunteer teacher at a Tanzanian public secondary school. After spending a year and a half teaching, I am very happy to be working with READ International to continue to contribute to the education of Tanzanian students!
A book that changed my life: is “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Written by husband and wife, Kristof and WuDunn, Half the Sky is a phenomenal written work that explores the difficulties women face in the developing world and how the end of poverty lies in the empowerment of women. The book not only story tells and educates, but it dares readers to take action against the injustices facing women around the world.
My work at READ focuses around finance and logistics thus making sure all accounts are up to date and providing logistics support for project operations. Prior to joining READ, I worked for Restless Development where I acquired various skills in finance, management and logistics. From my time with Restless, I developed an interest in working in the education sector and for youth oriented organizations. I am excited to be working with READ International.
A book that changed my life: The Seven habits of highly effective people: powerful lesson in personal change by Stephen R. Covey. This was one of my very first non-fiction books which got my attention and changed my life. The book is very inspirational and developmental and its worth reading to anyone seeking success in their professions, personal and family life. It helped me to change in some aspects, to grow and to become an effective person in every responsibility that comes across.
We are very proud to have the following individuals supporting our work as Tanzania Board Members. They lend credibility to our work and also act as ambassadors for READ International.
I was part of the READ team when we started back in 2006, and went on to lead the UK and then Tanzanian programs for the first 5 years. I continued my work in the education sector and now work for Radar Education, the exclusive distributor for Pearson Education and oversee the Tanzanian and Ugandan offices. It’s been wonderful to watch READ grow per the years and I’m delighted to remain involved as part of the Tanzanian board.
A book that changed my life: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Given to me at a fairly tough time in my life, I read this book and it made me feel positive and determined and realise you can get through anything if you believe in yourself. It also reminds me that sometimes you have to help people see beyond what they are told and give them a chance to explore what they can achieve.
Theophilus E. Mlaki holds a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from Loughborough University in UK. Until his recent retirement, Theo worked for 20 years as a Director of Information at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH). He dealt mainly with the development of scientific information systems and the promotion and popularization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as tools for knowledge and information accessibility. He represented his country and COSTECH in international arena including organizations such as Unesco, International Telecommunication Union, CABI International, IDRC of Canada, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Economic Commission of Africa. Currently Theo works as a Consultant in projects and programmes geared towards the utilization of ICT for development especially rural development; a Senior Advisor in Tanzania for Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) of Canada; a National Coordinator of Swedish Program for ICT for Developing Countries (SPIDER); past Chairman of the Board of the Dar es Salaam ICT Incubator supported by the World Bank under the InfoDev Program; and current Chairman of the Board of Tanzania Council for Social Development.
As a resourceful Entrepreneur and qualified Lawyer, I am passionate about developing cutting edge educational programs that drive social change. What inspires me most is working collaboratively with top notch leaders in the educational industry to develop and deliver innovative resources and solutions that prepare our youth and teachers for a sustainable future. To achieve my goals, I have established Shule Direct, a thriving organisation committed to providing comprehensive web and mobile educational platforms offering learning content across multiple subjects for young learners.
I have dedicated my professional career and personal life to empowering others to achieve their full potential. As a lawyer, I have the legal background to drive social change while continuing to comply with regulatory guidelines as well as rigorous industry standards. Always demanding excellence from myself, I believe in leading by example and as an entrepreneur, I hope to be a role model who cultivates new business opportunities that offer global change.
Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. It is hard to come up with one book that changed my life other than the Bible, cause it really has changed my life. However, if allowed to indulge, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, which I read when I was 14 years old confirmed my life-long reason to love books. I have ever since been seeking new destinations and knowledge through books.
I have always been impressed by the mission of READ International to provide books to schools in Tanzania. Education will lead to socio-economic development and the ultimate goal to eradicate poverty. My family’s charity foundation is focused on education and it’s about building capacity in the schools as well as giving scholarships. READ is unique in that it is a low budget–high impact project. Managers and volunteers travel by bus to rural towns to interact with schools as opposed to most of the development NGOs who travel everywhere in luxury 4WD Station Wagons!
A book that changed my life: My favourite reading is history, travel and Indian authors writing for an English audience. Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari” is one of my favourite books because it recounts a journey from Cairo to Cape Town that I always dreamed of doing when I was young. My other favourite book is “Tip and Run” by Edward Plaice as it tells the history of the Anglo German war (1st World War) in Tanganyika. This is history at my doorstep!
The role of the READ International Board of Trustees is to stretch the organisation, support the development of its strategy, and scrutinise its implementation. To achieve this the Board consists of members who, as a group, have a range of competencies that contribute to READ International achieving its vision and mission.
I first got involved with READ UK in 2009 on my exchange year to University College London. I am so passionate about the organisation’s mission and philosophy that I rejoined READ when I moved to the UK from Canada in 2015. While my academic background is in Psychology and Anthropology (specialising in Development), I joined a large retail start-up in Toronto for a few years. I then completed my Masters in Business Administration at Ivey Business School, Canada’s oldest business school. After graduating, I moved to the UK and am currently a Senior Consultant with Capgemini UK focusing on the financial services industry. My main areas of specialisation are process management, communications and change management. I am excited to marry my two passions (operational excellence and development) to further READ’s reach.
My background is in finance. I am a qualified accountant and chartered tax advisor and therefore my role with READ focuses on the finances. Outside of READ my passion is travelling, specifically around East Africa. Spending so much time in this amazing area of the world and getting to know the locals really brought to my attention the importance of education to bring people out of poverty. The work we do at READ helps this happen by making books available to local children through libraries and schools, improving education with the ultimate aim of improving living standards for the people in Tanzania
I first got involved for READ when I was 19 during my second year of University. Since then I have been to Tanzania twice as a READ volunteer and been involved in various fundraising, book collecting and awareness events back in the UK. In 2008 I helped complete the first READ library renovation project at Sabasaba Secondary School in Mtwara. I now live in London and work as a lawyer, advising governments in emerging markets on procuring private sector participation in the development and financing of large scale energy and infrastructure projects.
A book that changed my life: I’ve Seen the Clouds from Both Sides Now by Julie Tullis, the autobiography of a British female mountaineer who died whilst descending from the summit of K2 in 1986. Handed to me by my father when I was young, it was the first climbing book I read (mostly by torch light after bedtime).Since then I have gone through countless numbers of climbing, travelling and adventure books (of varying standards).They offer escapism and distraction (sometimes when you need it most) and a glimpse at how much enjoyment people can get from the more basic challenges and opportunity the world offers.
I was first involved with READ in 2005 as a volunteer at Nottingham Uni and first went to Tanzania in 2006. Since then, I have visited Tanzania 5 times, including a year spent setting up the READ office in Dar es Salaam. I stepped away from READ in 2010 to undertake teacher training through Teach First. Since 2012 I have continued to teach part-time whilst studying for my PhD at the Institute of Education in London. Inspired by my experiences with READ, I am researching how Tanzanian students respond to and cope with the language policy in secondary schools. I’m very excited that I will be spending a lot of the next year in Tanzania!
A book that changed my life: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This was a tough choice, but a friend recommended this book when I was 18 and living alone in Germany. I thought it was beautiful and taught me what fantastic company books can be!
I co-founded READ International back in 2004 with friends whilst studying at University of Nottingham. After university I took READ on as a full time job and led the organisation until 2011. In March 2011 I moved on from READ to travel from Cape Town to Cairo with my wife Nikki to co-write a book, On the Up, about social entrepreneurs in Africa aiming to inspire young people to drive social change. I have remained closely involved with READ ever since and am privileged to play a support role as a trustee.
I am also the co-founder of NoPC an IT social enterprise using the latest cloud computing technology to provide access to IT for the remotest of locations. In October 2011 I joined Ashoka UK as part of the UK leadership team and I’m leading our European Youth Strategy to educate a generation of changemakers.
At READ International we work with a number of charitable and corporate organisations that keep our cost low and efficiency high
368 Msasani Road
Dar es Salaam
PO Box 1160
+255 (0) 719 708 892
Mailing Address UK
113 Barden Road