As 2019 comes to an end, we can all look back and remember our accomplishments of the past years, the changes we mades, and the challenges we’ve faced. Like all of us, The E-Reader Project has had those moments over the past 12 months as well. Here is a summary of the project’s work in the past year.
The project’s team used the occasion of the special General Conference, held last February in St. Louis, to get a jump start on the year’s e-reader distribution. Because the event brought together United Methodist Church leaders from around the globe, which included delegates who have close ties to the project. By working with a few delegates who agreed to return to Africa with a couple of extra pieces of luggage filled with e-readers, the project was able to secure the delivery of just under 300 devices in English, French, and Portuguese to 11 partner schools across 5 countries.
While the project’s work would carry on in the States, its partners in Africa remained busy on the ground. In May, Africa University faculty member and e-reader trainer Rev. Thomas Munengwa was in Uganda leading the very first training at the United Methodist Theological College. Pierre Omadjela, another of the project’s facilitators, visited and held trainings for students, faculty, and project managers at several schools in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Liberian Julu Swen made trips to schools across West Africa.
July was a big month for the E-Reader Project. It saw the launch of our newly redesigned website umcereader.org, where you can learn more about the project, easily donate, and read about the schools and students who’ve been impacted by the Project.
Later that month, members of the Africa E-Reader team gathered in Nashville for its fourth annual meeting. Led by the project’s director Rev. Dr. Beauty Maenzanise, team members from across Africa shared their reports and evaluations from the partner schools they had visited. The 3-day meeting was also an opportunity to discuss and plan for the project’s work in 2020, which was in line with meeting’s theme: “Charting a Path Forward.”
“There is a lot of uncertainty about the future in the church right now, ” Africa E-Reader Team member and former Project Leader Robin Pippin said. “We cannot ignore that fact. At the same time, we are certain about the mission of the E-Reader Project…We plan to move forward with our mission, even in the midst of the uncertainty. There may be a time when the E-Reader Project will end – but that time is not now. We continue to provide new texts and e-readers to those in need.”
Since then, the project’s team has continued to maintain a growing theological library by adding authors and their works to the e-reader’s extensive content list. This includes new titles in both English and French and adding works by authors who are new to the project: The Supernatural Thread in Methodism by Dr. Frank Billman and Your Sermon Guide by Rev. Joseph G. Donkoh, along with a pair of French translations of books by Jefferson S. Labala that had previously been available only in English.
As the calendar turns to 2020, The E-Reader Project team remains committed to reshaping theological education across Africa and is looking forward to what the new year has in store.