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Meet Community Developer Marnie

Meet Marnie, member of the Spaces Zuidas community. Over the course of one year Marnie started an initiative to help provide children in her home neighbourhood a vital resource that many take for granted; access to learning materials and a space to grow. We talk to Marnie about the inspiration behind her project and what it means for the community.

Spaces: Hi Marnie, can you tell us about your project?

Marnie: I grew up in the outskirts of Paramibo and witnessed first hand the lack of facilities communities around the capital have. I wanted to startup the project, Stichting Casi’s Dream, in order to offer a safe and comfortable learning environment to those without access. Many people can’t afford to take the bus to the library, so they won’t make that choice, and in turn, their educational development suffers. So through the bibliobus initiative we are able to travel to those people, bringing a creative, playful environment for them to use.  It provides the space to focus, learn and interact with others. We also host events when the bus is stationary from various locations. Relying on a small group of dedicated volunteers we’re able to keep the project up-and-running in Suriname.

What stage of development is this initiative in now?

This June I travelled to Suriname to finally launch the project after many months of fundraising and organising. It was not always a prosperous project as many charity foundations experience, but in the end we managed to reach our goal and deliver the mobile library. This September we began with holiday activities, providing a fun and interactive environment for the children to socialise, learn and play. By October, we aim for the bibliobus to be fully operational for the beginning of the new school year. As it’s mobile, the bibliobus also tours the neighbourhood schools, providing extra support to the staff and their pupils.

What’s the aim of this project? 

The aim of the bibliobus is to offer dynamic access to learning materials and interactive resources to people in the community. We have discovered that not only children, but adults of the district have also connected with us in a very positive way. They may use the space to just quietly read, access information, or meet and connect with others in their community through the activities we offer. More than a physical space to be, it serves as an area of social connection, which is an important sphere for everyone to have access to. To be able provide this safe, interactive place to enjoy makes us very proud.

What inspired you to begin this initiative?

I grew up in Paramibo with the bibliobus initiative so the idea is an old concept to me, but one that is close to my heart. Many people in the community in which we are based don’t have the money to buy learning materials or support their education. School begins at 8am and ends at 1pm, so this short day doesn’t provide enough scope for children to really progress in their studies.  Reading teaches a lot more than what the current educational system provides and helps with their development, equipping them with the tools they need to become self-sufficient, which in turn will open up better opportunities.

I began by collecting books myself from friends and contacts as well as the generous donations of the Spaces community. One other such project exists in Suriname, but unfortunately it lacks vital funds to cover a greater area. We wanted to offer the same opportunities to the areas it can’t reach. Our mobile library is active in an area where there are many schools and children. We also have partner organisations that make use of this facility.

Any final thoughts?

It’s great that at Spaces there’s scope to develop not only in business, but the strong community here helps to facilitate personal development. Having very gratefully received donations of resources from members and tenants, I wanted to share this story so that they can see the progress of the project, as well as giving an insight into the types of people it will continue to help. I feel passionately that literacy is key to providing you with a better future, and I would like to thank all who contributed to this project’s success.

Great, thanks Marnie. 

Read more about this initiative and how you can help here. 

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