Room to Read: How one library changed Habsa’s life


In Tanzania, students face many barriers on the road to quality education. Sometimes, being different is the main barrier. Habsa, a twelve-year-old student in Tanzania, knows this challenge all too well. Habsa has albinism, which brings with it many uncertainties, as there are many albinism killing incidents in Tanzania. “Her life is threatened,” her father explained. “We are so worried that she cannot attend extra classes. We have to make arrangements for her to attend school every day – most of the time we have to escort her to school.”

Habsa is one of the students benefitting from Room to Read’s Literacy Program. After falling ill and staying home for three years, teachers have been very impressed with her progress since returning to school. Magreth, one of her teachers, explained that “using Room to Read’s teaching methodologies, Habsa was able to catch up when she returned to school. She now reads and writes very fast, and with additional books from the library she has been able to perform so well in grade one that she was moved to grade three. “ Habsa explains that her secret to success has been borrowing two books from the library every day to read to her family. The libraries and resources provide children like Habsa with friendly, safe spaces to develop the skills and habit of reading. “Habsa loves to read,” her father said as he smiled. “Before we had electricity, at night she used to read with an oil lamp. She loves the books from the library.” Habsa explains, “ when I grow up I want to be a teacher.”

Founded in 2000 on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children®, Room to Read’s innovative model focuses on deep, systemic transformation within schools in low-income countries during two time periods that are most critical in a child’s schooling: early primary school for literacy acquisition and secondary school for girls’ education. Room to Read works in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and ensure girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions. Room to Read has benefited over 11.5 million children across more than 20,000 communities in 14 countries in Asia and Africa and aims to reach 15 million children by 2020. Learn more at