A Croxley Green woman is closing in on her goal of raising £2,000 to fill an impoverished and empty library in Burkina Faso with books.
Lucy Colbeck, 25, flew to the African nation - where most adults receive only one year of schooling - at the beginning of April to take part in a three month project.
The former Rickmansworth School pupil says she hopes to fill the library in the West African country's capital, Ouagadougou, with books so orphaned and vulnerable children have an opportunity to learn.
Her trip is part of a government-supported scheme for people aged 18 to 25. She is working for AES/Burkina - an NGO based in Ouagadougou.
Her aim is to help children learn about basic healthcare, how to protect themselves against malaria and HIV/AIDS, to share the benefits of reading for fun and for their school work.
She said: "It is inspiring to see children as young as eight years old come to the library in their spare time to read but it is tragic there are so few books.
"In the UK we take our free education for granted. Here the children want to learn but do not have the opportunity.
"Life is hard for children in Burkina Faso. When most families can only afford to eat one good meal a day, schoolbooks are an unaffordable luxury."
Despite having significant reserves of gold, the landlocked African nation was ranked the third poorest in the world by the UN in 2012. The previous year UNICEF estimated that 120,000 people of all ages are living with HIV.
Lucy said: "Here in Burkina families are struggling to pay to send their children to school, and things are greatly aggravated by HIV/AIDS - sometimes children have lost a parent to it, or family members who are HIV positive cannot afford to pay for their medication - so AES/Burkina help them with these costs."
The majority of the money raised so far has come from donations from family and friends but Lucy says more is needed.
Before leaving for Africa, Lucy worked for The Challenge Network in London but has previously worked for Action for Children in Watford.
"The library is currently working on a budget of zero and relies on volunteers, both international and local," she added.
"People who support charities often wonder where the money goes. We are in the country right now so donations will go straight into buying books. It is direct aid."
"Although the library shelves are half empty, children come every day hoping to find something to inspire them. By launching this appeal we hope to make that possible."
For further information about Lucy’s project or to make a donation to the community library, please visit: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2W9qc