In an apparent effort to reach out to the African community in the Twin Cities, Books For Africa, the St. Paul-based non-profit organization that sends donated books to Africa, appointed Mshale president and publisher, Tom Gitaa, to its board of directors.
Patrick Plonski, the organization’s executive director, said BFA picked Gitaa for his connection to various African communities through his newspaper.
“African communities are important because they can point us to the right people in the continent,” Plonski said. “Mr. Gitaa comes with tremendous expertise and will be very instrumental in helping us reach them.”
The 16-member board of directors is the governing body that sets policy and makes financial decisions. It meets five times every year.
Gitaa’s appointment comes at a time when the organization is going through fast growth, Plonski said. In the last six months alone, BFA raised $1 million and sent 100 containers to 20 countries in Africa. BFA also received a grant from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to send books to northern Africa, Plonski said.
In a continent where the progress of many charitable organizations is hindered by rampant corruption, BFA continues to flourish. Since its founding in 1988, it has sent more than 18 million books to Africa, according to information obtained from its Web site. Plonski attributed the success to the fact that there is no cash involved.
“We don’t deliver money; we flood the continent with textbooks,” Plonski said. “The worst that could happen if they get misappropriated is that someone will read them.”