Mine to Keep

By Jac Dowling

Yesterday The Friends of the Library delivered our umpteenth bag of no-longer-needed specs to Specsavers for Lions’ Operation Brightsight. It’s an effort very close to my heart and, to date, the orange collection box in our library has filled up weekly.Image result for books and glasses clipart

Specs are an item one tends to feel guilty about throwing away, so we decided to easethe collective conscience, and it’s working really well.

And it’s not only specs that turn up; good quality magnifiers, goodies to help see the TV and mobile phone screens a bit better – all sorts of odds and ends.   Specsavers, who have large collection boxes in their premises, send the specs to their warehouse where they’re sorted and graded then passed on to Lions. The project will be ongoing as long as there’s a need and we hope to be helping many people who might not be able to afford the expense of new glasses. And bring to them the magic of reading once again.

Which leads me to the cost of stock: Our weekly Bhuki Cafe coffee mornings regularly bring in over R1000, which, three years ago, bought the library 5 – 6 new books. Today we can no longer afford to buy large print, which is very sad, and only 2 – 3 new books per R1000.   Of course, if we’re patient, the hot numbers find their way onto the bargain table at Bargain Books, and that’s a great help.   Each book purchased by Friends needs covering, security stripping and cataloguing. So we have to supply the materials and extra shelving to accommodate the growing numbers -many of which are donated.   This month we’re buying two specially made trolleys for ease of returning stock to shelves, and two new scanners.   Our system server is based in Brussels would you believe. . . and there’s no provincial help for worn out bits and pieces.

But – all in all, we seem to be doing a fairly good job and anyone who visits our library does a little Piglet bounce of joy at the selection available, and the happy atmosphere.

I recently read again the remarkable lives of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, which possibly set off the whole specs project.   Helen Keller never gave up.   Her words remain with me in good times and bad:


Mine To Keep

They took away what should have been my eyes.

(But I remembered Milton’s Paradise).

They took away what should have been my ears

(Beethoven came and wiped away my tears).

They took away what should have been my tongue

(But I had talked with God when I was young).

He would not let them take away my soul:

Possessing that, I still possess the whole.


Helen Keller



2 thoughts on “Mine to Keep

  1. Susan says:

    Sounds like great work that you and Spec-Savers are doing, Jac. Helen Keller was truly a remarkable woman. The first professional play I ever worked on was about her, called “Monday after the Miracle.” It was a sequel to “The Miracle Worker” and was about the lives of Helen and Annie Sullivan once Helen reached adulthood and went to college.

    • jac dowling says:

      That’s very interesting Susan. I played Annie Sullivan in East London’s Guild Theatre production of “The Miracle Worker” – brilliant and tragic and what a wonderful ending -”Wawa”

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