Bringing the joy of reading to school children with crowdfunding

By on February 23, 2016

Jelena Saban was a librarian in a library with no books. She had no government support and a school full of children to educate. Her last course of action was to turn to crowdfunding. Suffice to say, it will be her first from now on. Read about her journey below:

I have been reading books and devouring every page that gets into my hands ever since I can remember. Books are wonderful, magical things that not only allow you to experience all kinds of worlds, but also create them. Everything that happened in the last few months made me realize that we truly can be the creators of our own reality.

I work as a school librarian in a village called Novo Čiče not far from Zagreb. Recently we moved to a beautiful new school that provides our students with everything they need to prosper in an intellectual, physical, cultural, spiritual and moral way and to acquire the key competences that promote lifelong learning essential in a knowledge society.

School under construction

Before refurbishment

New library building

After refurbishment

Well, almost everything; on the ceremonial first day of school, our students were seemingly disappointed to enter a big, beautiful but absolutely empty school library. In the process of equipping the new school, somehow our library got cut out of the equation – we didn’t get one single book.

You see, all those children, they don’t have fancy gadgets, tablets, mobile phones or computers and for most of them the school library is the only place where they can enter the realities different from their own. It was devastating for me to see all those disappointed little faces that came to my library looking for knowledge, adventure and some fun and not finding it. I could only imagine how it felt to be deprived of the fundamental human right – to read.
I could have waited for a miracle. But nothing ever happens if you wait. You have to get out and find it. And if you don’t, just make your own little miracle.

School libraries in Croatia rarely get funds to buy books and even if they do, it is usually not enough. Not enough for the libraries that are partially equipped and certainly not enough for the libraries that are not equipped at all.
So, I instantly thought of crowdfunding. I had absolutely no experience and very little knowledge of the concept. So I did my research. The more I read, the bigger my excitement was. I realized that it was possible and immediately started planning every step so that I could present the idea to my headmaster. Luckily, he is a supporting person so he loved the idea even though he had completely no idea about the gobbledygook I was talking about.
I thought video was the best way to express myself and show the severity of the situation. Turns out it really was!

I chose Hubbub platform to convey my idea and my goal because it was perfect for our project in every way. The Hubbub team were just darling and I really felt at home communicating with them! They were quick to answer all of my questions, even quicker to solve all of my problems. They supported the project and helped A LOT. I couldn’t have done it without you guys, thank you! :)

Crowdfunding pitch

Jelena’s pitch on Hubbub

When the project was published on Hubbub, I used social networking to promote it. Then everything just started happening. My dear friends and colleagues were sharing it over and over, and suddenly some people that I’ve never met in my life started contacting me, offering their help, support, media coverage and whatnot. So first we got a hundred books, and then some more, and soon big donations started coming. So, even before the end of the crowdfunding project, the story of our library ended up in the two most popular national newspapers, on many online news websites and we got covered on Croatian national TV and radio station.

Our shelves were becoming fuller and fuller every day and even now, two months after the crowdfunding project has ended, donations still keep coming. Only recently have I withdrawn the money that we got from donations and purchased new books for our elementary students..

There are no words to describe the joy I’m seeing every day on their little faces. You have to see it to believe it. In some there are students after their classes enjoying their free time and in one of them you can see our typical school recess/lunch break – they literally form a line and patiently wait to check out books! Every day, every break! They just keep coming and I can barely handle them :)))

School children enjoying crowdfunded library

I cannot but think that I have the best job in the whole world! I am infinitely grateful to all of     you beautiful, brave, compassionate people that helped to make this happen. I think… no, I know our children’s lives will be changed for the better. Step by step, one life by one and we make the world a better place for all of us.

IMAG1358

So thank you; for believing in our project and for supporting it. Thank you for your time, kind words and help. I will continue to do my best to help these little people fly.

Kind regards,
Jelena Saban

Brendan Earley

Brendan Earley

Community Director at Hubbub
Brendan has a diverse background in running co working spaces, key working young homeless Londoners and championing the life changing aspects of education. Brendan is in charge of all the exciting office operations for Hubbub as well as being our official Community Director.
Brendan Earley

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