Jamberoo author inspired to write for East African children

The joy on a child's face when they open a favourite picture book is one of life's great pleasures.

Jamberoo author Philippa Cleall has spent the past few years bringing that joy to children in East Africa.

Philippa, who works with youth in the Shoalhaven, and was previously a teacher and librarian in Shellharbour, has just returned from a trip to Zambia to release her most recent book, inspired by one school's efforts to overcome the barrier of hunger to give children an education.

"This picture book was based on the amazing story of a Zambian school which has been established in a large shanty town in Lusaka, East Africa," she said.

"Hope and Faith School started in 2003 when two students were being taught in a small concrete room by 63 year old retired school teacher Rosemary Mumbi. Rosemary soon realised the local children did not have the energy to attend school, so she started feeding them a hot meal each day.

"Within months Rosemary had 300 children coming to be educated."

Children from three East African schools; Tumaini Junior School and FEZA Primary School in Tanzania and Hope and Faith School in Zambia helped translate the story from English into Swahili, Bemba and Nyanja languages.

"I think they were a bit skeptical that the translation they were doing would turn into something," Philippa said.

"You could see the joy and excitement in their faces, just to have a book in their own language."

Hungry Chipo, written in English and Swahili, features Chipo, a young hippo who is so hungry he doesn't have the energy to do anything ... even go school. Chipo's teacher is worried about her hungry students and empty classroom. The story follows the footsteps of Minko a little monkey who finds a way to bring students back to school.

"The students loved the East African animal characters," Philippa said.

"A lot of students are from poorer communities and they don't get out to see their own native animals, so to have them in the book, that was really special too."

Hungry Chipo has been written for pre-school to lower primary age readers. Free online PDF Teacher's Notes are available on the author's website www.philippacleall.com.au.

All proceeds from the sale of Hungry Chipo in Australia will be sent to the Hope and Faith School Community to help fund their student food program.

Philippa said her next project is to create a children's book about human trafficking for an organisation in Ghana that rescues child victims.

"They were really excited about the idea of a dual-language children's book, because that's a group they have trouble communicating the dangers to," she said.

"It's a drop in the ocean of helping, but I feel privileged to be able to help other communities."