Books from Scotland to Uganda!

In the summer of 2018 some of the trustees and well-wishers of OKAS Fund visited Books Abroad, a U.K.-registered charity founded some four decades ago.  

Books Abroad is based in Rhynie, a small village in Northern Scotland. It is 40 miles west of the coastal town of Aberdeen, and about 140 miles north of Edinburgh.

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Location of Books Abroad in Rhynie, a small village in Northern Scotland

The mandate of Books Abroad is, well, to send books abroad! Discarded or unwanted books are collected, sorted and stored at its warehouse in Northern Scotland. From here, they are shipped to countries in the developing world.
The books are donated mostly by individuals and schools in Scotland as well as the rest of the U.K.   

Below is the pristine scenery of Northern Scotland:

And nestled in this picturesque setting is a little-known gem of a place, namely, the Books Abroad Office and Warehouse:

Logo of Books Abroad is the only hint at what is inside the building

Inside this warehouse we saw books, books, and more books! Shelf upon shelf, stacked to the brim with all sorts of reading material: novels, biographies, motivational and self-help manuals; old classics and other works of literature; school text-books on technology, history, geography, engineering; children’s classics – even magazines such as National Geographic and Readers’ Digest.      

Technology books and course material


A wide range of books on nature and the environment

It goes without saying - collecting, packing and shipping of books are backbreaking tasks. Much of the heavy lifting, pun intended, is done by a team of dedicated volunteers.

 Their enthusiasm for this charity is apparent, as most of them need to travel a few dozen miles just to get to this place

Loma a volunteer, busy sorting newly arrived books

Vinay Ruparelia is the Chairman and one of the Trustees of Books Abroad. He is instrumental in the whole effort, from having the books collected, to sending them to their destination in some remote part of the world. 

The motto of Books Abroad is, alleviating poverty through education. What better way to help the disadvantaged? Providing food and shelter is fine, but education should be the goal. It empowers future generations to become self sufficient.  

Vinay Ruparelia making a point during our tour of the warehouse


Garry, a volunteer showing off a Harry Potter book

Involvement of OKAS Fund

You might wonder, why did OKAS Fund visit this place? The short answer is, we are in the process of shipping some 17,000 books from Books Abroad to Uganda!

Many of you must have read of our plans to send library books and other reading material to our beloved school, OKSSS in Kampala, Uganda. Well, this is where the books are coming from. 

During our visits to OKSSS we observed that extra-curricular reading material was sorely lacking. If the school had any books at all, they were torn and outdated, hence our initiative to undertake this mission.    

We plan to donate 12,000 books to OKSSS. The remaining 5,000 will be distributed among other schools such as Kololo, and some primary ‘feeder’ schools in and around Kampala, Uganda

Arun Patel,Founding Trustee and Chairman of OKAS Fund

Some of these packed boxes are going to our school

Markings indicate these boxes are destined for Uganda. When we saw this, we were reassured that our dream of sending books to OKSSS was finally coming alive!

Mayoor Patel, Founding Trustee of OKAS Fund, with Vinay

Course material obtained from a local school

On the left is Amanda, a volunteer. On the right is Maya, a huge fan of books, and who drove us to this remote place

To run a charity of this nature requires not only funding but also publicity and recognition. To boost morale, it helps to have the support of people in high places.  

In this regard Books Abroad has the backing of many prominent individuals, among them Prince Charles, who has personally visited the charity and wholeheartedly supports its mandate.   

Picture of Prince Charles adorns the office walls

The idea of sending books to the developing world is not new. Many of us have good, high-quality books that we no longer need or want. They sit in our bookshelves, collecting dust. Nobody wants them. And quite often these books end up in the garbage dump.

Why not send these to places where they are desperately needed, and where they will be appreciated?
It is a simple concept, but its implementation is daunting – one needs to collect, sort, store, and then ship the books.

And that is what Books Abroad is doing.

Although Books Abroad will provide the books for free, OKAS Fund is required to foot the bill for shipping and handling to Uganda. This comes to about 4,000 GBP, of which 2,200 GBP has already been collected.  

So, we still need to raise 1,800 GBP for this project. 

If you would like to donate, click the button below:

Trustees Bear 100% administrative costs

Please note, the trustees are bearing all administrative costs, therefore 100% of your donations will go towards helping the students. 

“Drop by drop a lake is filled; pebble by pebble a dam is built” - Indian Proverb


Compiled by Dinesh D. Dattani, a Trustee of OKAS Fund.  Dinesh resides in Toronto, Canada.

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