New Jersey Professor Mounts Massive Book Drive Aiming to Eradicate Illiteracy in His Native Kenya

Philip Thiuri is a professor of geography and urban studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. But in addition to his teaching duties, Professor Thiuri is engaged in a massive effort to eradicate illiteracy in his native land of Kenya.

Professor Thiuri has mounted a drive to collect thousands of books which he sends to Kenya to create reading centers in rural areas. Six centers have been established and Thiuri has requests from 20 more villages that want to establish libraries.

His non-profit group Rural Reading Centers, Africa has collected more than 18,000 books. With the help of inmates at the Passaic County prison who are required to do community service work, Dr. Thiuri has packed and shipped more than 8,000 books to Kenya. Thousands more need to be boxed and shipped, and the piles of donated books grow each day.

Professor Thiuri accepts all types of books for donation, but he says the greatest need is for how-to and self-help manuals. His nonprofit group also accepts donations of money which he hopes to use to buy elementary and secondary school textbooks for each reading center. Money is also used to pay the cost of shipping the books to Kenya.

Professor Thiuri is a graduate of St. Michael’s College. He earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics at Cornell University and a Ph.D. in geography  from Syracuse University. He later earned a master’s degree in divinity from Seton Hall University. Thiuri is currently on sabbatical and will travel to Kenya in March to help build the reading centers.