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by Jennifer Ching, student writer

HPU Amnesty International Club’s former President Veronica Andersson had an idea: collect textbooks and donate them to a school in South Africa. The club put the idea into action, collecting textbooks from HPU’s College of Communication and the College of Liberal Arts.

Through the fall 2006 semester and the following spring 2007 semester, the books continued to pile up. A booth was even set up on Fort Street Mall in the beginning of spring 2007 so that students could donate books as well, according to current club President Saleh Azizi.

But, at the end of the spring semester, when 16 boxes of textbooks were collected, the club didn’t have the funds to send the books to the South African school. Then the club lost contact with the school.

“ They (the school) stopped responding to e-mails,” explained Azizi, who became the club president this past September.

Azizi did a little networking. He had talked with Dr. John Fleckles, senior vice president of Academic Affairs, about Fleckles’ travels to different Polynesian islands, so he asked for suggestions about where to send the books.

Fleckles remembered newspaper articles about the Friends of the Library sending books to Tonga that were left over from their summer book sale.

“ When Saleh said [he] had books,” Fleckles said, it was just “a question of finding a contact in Tonga.”

Fleckles referred Azizi to graduate student Wesley Fine (pronounced fee-nay), who gave him Mataele’s name and number. With a few phone calls, the textbooks had a Pacific destination: the island nation of Tonga. On Oct. 3, through the support of Tonga’s Regional Director of Tourism, Joseph Mataele, and with the addition of seven boxes from the College of Business Administration, Azizi and club Vice President Joshua King delivered 23 boxes, about 575 books for libraries in Tonga.

“ Every single college has been here with books,” said Azizi. “It’s been a collaborative effort.”
According to Mataele, the majority of the books will be given to libraries in remote villages on the island. These libraries will become educational centers that will include book and computer sections. Both children and adults can read and learn at these centers.

Mataele described how the inspiration for the project stemmed from how he grew up in Tonga, where there were “practically no books,” and he “learned through writing notes.” He believes that “education is a key factor to fighting poverty and illiteracy,” and he said he plans to continue collecting books for Tonga and possibly for other islands in the future.

Azizi said the club would like to send more books to Tonga: “If they need more books, we will send them.”

Fleckles added that it was a “great outcome. It was good for the club to reach out, meet people, meet needs.” He also gave this advice: “Opportunities are out there, but you have to knock. When you’re stuck, ask around, and you’ll find people willing to help.”

Mataele added, “The people of Tonga say ‘thank you very much.’”

For more information about donations, call Saleh Azizi at 808-542-5708.

Donations of books, as well as computers, are still being accepted for libraries in Tonga.

Call Joseph Mataele at 808-723-9593.






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