The third stage of the P.AGE project by B50 has started, as part of which we provide libraries of schools and communities that have survived the occupation or suffered damage as a result of hostilities with modern Ukrainian-language literature. We donate sets of 50 books covering topics of history, patriotism, science, art, professions, etc., as well as stimulating personal development and helping to make learning more interesting.
As part of the third, national, phase of P.AGE, we plan to deliver 2,500 books to 50 libraries in the de-occupied and frontline regions in the south, east, and north of Ukraine.
The first sets of books for this stage will be formed thanks to a donation from teenagers from the United States, which B50 received after launching an international fundraising campaign.
John Harthorne responded to our request with a proposal to provide the B50 community with funds raised by his children Max (17) and Yulia (13) in their Lemons for Learning project. The children are active and have started a non-profit project in the United States themselves. They sell lemonade and other products at children’s lemonade stands and do so for charity, including educational. They raise funds for children’s developmental and educational opportunities around the world. Max and Yulia raised $1,000, enough for P.AGE to purchase books for three libraries, which we will describe below.
Library of Shandryholove village (Donetsk region)
The village of Shandryholove in the Donetsk region is a typical settlement liberated from the russians: smashed machinery, shell craters, ruins and ashes, not a single surviving house, destroyed kindergarten, school, workshop, club, library… From May to September 2022, the village was under russian occupation. On September 27, as part of the battles for Lyman, it was liberated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But the front is still close (25 km).
Since the local school was destroyed, the 16 children who remained in the village are taught by a Ukrainian language and literature teacher at home. The village library was also destroyed: before the full-scale invasion, it had 9,238 books, and now it has only 337 books donated by caring readers. Now it operates in the format of a “library in a backpack”. Therefore, the book collection needs to be replenished, especially with children’s and informational literature. That is why 50 modern Ukrainian-language books from B50 will be a very tangible and useful gift for children from the village of Shandryholove.
Khrystoforivka village library (Mykolaiv region)
This library is one of the best branches of the Bashtanka Public Library. It plays an important role in the socio-cultural life of the entire community, popularizing reading among its residents and fostering reading culture among young people. There is a hobby club called “Ridnokrai” (“‘Homeland’), which explores the history of their small homeland and studies its literary and artistic life.
In early March 2022, Khrystoforivka came under occupation, and the russian military occupied the Museum of the village’s history, which housed the library. They created a mess here (as they did everywhere else they could reach): they kicked in doors, broke locks, damaged windows and furniture (they used it to build barricades), completely destroyed 200 books (including many patriotic publications) and readers’ forms (they burned them while cooking), and left behind a pile of garbage and dirt.
Despite the burning of many books, the library’s collection now includes 12,205 copies, including 10,151 in Ukrainian. Local children like to read science fiction, adventure literature, informative books about animals, plants, and the creation of the world, and younger children like fairy tales.
The library is in need of a significant upgrade of its collection, as the books that are physically and morally outdated are unable to meet the needs of modern users. Therefore, receiving a set of books from B50 is extremely important and valuable for the Khrystoforivska library.
Library of Bilopillia Gymnasium No. 5 (Sumy region)
The town of Bilopillia is located 10 kilometers from russia, so it is not surprising that the enemy is constantly shelling it with everything they can (once there were 170 explosions in the Bilopillia community in a week!). But life goes on, and so does school.
Bilopillia Gymnasium No. 5, where 114 children currently study, has suffered significant damage: the dining room building was destroyed by a direct hit from a Shahid drone, almost all the windows in the primary school and dormitory building were blown out, and all the windows in the library were smashed. The library was moved and set up in another building.
The issue of the premises has been resolved, but there is a problem with updating the library collection. The interest in reading among the students of the Gymnasium is very high. They are interested in historical topics, natural sciences, and students in grades 1-4 like to read fairy tales, which, unfortunately, are almost non-existent here. There is also a lack of literature by contemporary writers (Ukrainian and foreign).
The Gymnasium has many children from underprivileged backgrounds who need special support. Thanks to the new books, these children will plunge into the world of adventures, learn something new and interesting, and at least for a while forget about the war. So the set from B50 will be a great gift for the students of Bilopillia Gymnasium No. 5.