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The Camel Library

Published by O: The Oprah Magazine

The camels halt under an Acacia tree, grunting, weary from a two hour trip through the African bush. "Toh! Toh!" the herders cry, whipping the beasts' knees to force them to kneel so their cargo can be unloaded. Then the traveling librarians open a wooden box, revealing its cache: books of fairy tales, novels, atlases, biographies and more in English and Swahili (the official languages in Kenya). Barefoot children appear as if out of nowhere, sinewy and dusty, leaning against one another as they watch the librarians unroll grass mats and spread out the books. They wait for the moment when they can sit on the ground and hold the books in their own hands.

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