Philip Alabi collects textbooks to send to Africa

SIUE graduate student Philip Alabi looks at some of the 1,000 textbooks he’s collected to ship to his alma mater in Nigeria. Now, he’s trying raise enough money to send them there. Provided

Since August, Philip Alabi has been trying to raise enough money to send all the textbooks he’s collected back to Nigeria, his homeland. He’s still short by about $600.

Philip, 30, is a graduate student in chemistry and a teaching assistant at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He hasn’t counted all the books he’s gathered through donations since June, but estimates there are 1,000 or more.

“I was motivated to seek book donations for my alma mater (Tai Solarin University of Education) when I saw how books quickly get outdated and wasted here in the U.S.,” he said. “Back home in Nigeria, there is an utter lack of resources.”

The problem is getting them from Edwardsville to Nigeria.

“Raising the funds has been the most difficult part of the whole drive. Getting the books was quite easy. People were very willing to donate,” he wrote in an email.

Shipping costs are estimated at $1,250, so he’s asking for $1,300 on the fundraising website In the last two months, he’s raised almost $700. And while the goal on Generosity says $1,050, he now has more textbooks than he did for the original estimate and needs additional money.

Cost prohibits sending them directly to the Nigerian university, where he earned his undergraduate degree. Tai Solarin opened in 2005 and is the first university of education in the country.

“My ultimate desire will be to see these books in the hands of a student back home … learning new things from the texts, illustrations and pictures displayed,” he said. “The lasting social and economic change that comes from more Nigerians knowing better is what I seek to achieve.”

Philip will first ship the container of books to the neighboring country of Ghana. Once there, he said a professor at the school will arrange for the books to be bussed to Nigeria.

“Most of them are textbooks, and because I’m a chemistry major, it started in the chemistry department,” he said, adding that textbooks do cover other subjects as well.

Philip expects to earn his master’s from SIUE and then get a doctorate. He plans to stay in the United States for another seven to 10 years afterward, working in medicine.

He will continue shipping books back to Nigeria after this initial shipment, he said, but will use his own money. Still, he is impressed with the help he’s gotten.

“It is beyond refreshing to know that the American populace is very committed to making the world a better place through small efforts of individuals.”

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