ISSN 1710-6931 December 18, 2009 Issue 148

Atuu's One Book Project to Increase Literacy

Everybody accepts that life can be unfair. But maybe it is not.

At the surface level, Atuu Waonaje's life is an embodiment of injustice, cruelty and unfairness. He was born poor in an impoverished country and became a refugee at 15 years of age. Still a teenager, he lost his parents, had no possessions and was forced to take care of not only himself but also his brother.

How can fate be more unjust to a person? But looking deeper, we realize that while nature took many things away from Atuu, it also gave him gifts — such as compassion, drive and the confidence to make something out of nothing — which few of us can claim.

Turmoil, calamities and injustice didn't bog down Atuu and while still in a refugee camp in Tanzania, he started CELA, the Centre for Youth Development and Adult Education, which was so successful that it won him the Women's Refugee Commission Voice of Courage Award in 2007.

CELA, however, is an old story and Atuu is not resting on his laurels. He has recently started a new project called One Book Project (OBP).

Atuu observed that:

  • There is neither a resource centre nor a library in his city, Fizi Territory (in the Democratic Republic of Congo), which means a large number of students have no access to information except what they learn at school;
  • Young guys have not much to do after school. They generally do not have a habit of reading for pleasure or information and most even don't know how to use a dictionary;
  • People have books which are unused.

Ordinary people would have looked at the situation and done nothing but Atuu started OBP which collects books from various individuals and then puts them in a resource centre/library for use by locals. The main aims of the project are:

  • Promoting a reading culture among community members who have lost that culture due to the war. Maybe starting a reading week.
  • Empowering villagers with skills through books and connecting them with the world.
  • Increasing literacy.

Atuu has already managed to collects a small number of books but for his project to achieve these aims, he needs your help. You can reach him by email.


Perspective: peace through the eyes of a child

The theme for RESPECT's 2009-2010 Annual Poster Contest is Perspective: peace through the eyes of a child. The theme was chosen from the excellent suggestions we received.

There is financial assistance for refugees schools who need help paying postage for their students' entries. The poster contest coordinator for each refugee school needs to make a request as soon as possible. Send your request to or to your country coordinator.

Entry requirements and other information for the Poster Contest are available online.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have you ever wondered where RESPECT International has its headquarters? Or how to become a RESPECT volunteer?

These and other important questions are answered in RESPECT's newly published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Take some time to learn more about RESPECT and its Global Letter Exchange. There is a separate FAQ with information for refugee schools and non-refugee schools.

What if your question isn't answered? Then email it to our webmaster and he will make sure you get an answer and will add the question to the FAQ.

As in any newsletter or magazine, RESPECT e-zine is committed to striving for interesting articles and announcements concerning refugee issues all around the world.

If you have any suggestions or would like to contribute an article, contact the e-Zine editor, Angela Carter, at

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