The entrance to the Ashdown Community Library prior to the intervention by Sakisizwe Community Education Programme
Ashdown is a township in Pietermaritzburg with a population of close to 80,000 people. The township has only one library, the Ashdown Community library, serving this community. Even though this library serves this large community it has no access for disabled people, no computers, no internet and no books for high school students to consult, even though the community has two high schools. Disabled residents and students have to travel to town, approximately 10 km’s, to access library services. With increasing transport costs library services are out of reach for disabled residents and high school students because they cannot afford transport costs.
Sakhisizwe Community Education Programme, one of PACSA’s community partners, took up this struggle to make this library accessible to all residents of Ashdown and to ensure they have the facilities and equipment to function at an optimal level. The group drew up a petition signed by over 500 people and presented this petition to the Msunduzi Municipality in April 2013. Since then they met with the municipal officials and it was agreed that the Ashdown Library would be refurbished and a ramp build so that disabled residents could access the library. The municipality eventually sent workers in June to begin this revamping process and work has started and should be completed shortly.
Having a functioning and accessible library is a victory for the Sakhisizwe Community Education Programme group and the community of Ashdown who can now benefit from the library and improve the quality of knowledge and information for the youth of the area. It is also sign to others that when community members organize themselves and focus on a goal that they can bring about positive change.