PDG (1996/97) Rodney Mazinter “discovered” the Usborne Illustrated English Dictionary at the 2008 Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles. On his return he ceremoniously dumped some samples on PDG (1989/90) Michael Johnson’s desk, exhorting him to “get going”.


Michael and his colleagues had been searching for a suitable dictionary for the Literacy Sub-Committee of the REACH OUT TO AFRICA, Africa:South “division” and Rodney’s “find” gave this literacy assignment welcome momentum.


The Project is managed by RC Kromboom and has from the start “thought and acted big”, being supported by many senior Rotarians around Southern Africa, who have kindly donated their time and influence;  acting inter alia as Patrons (link) and members of country  Advisory Boards (link), representing Rotary Districts throughout Southern Africa.


Early ”seed money” came from RC Kromboom’s twinned club, RC Kirksville in the USA, facilitated largely by PRIP Ray Klinginsmith (left) and former  Kirksville Rotarian Murilyn Koutstaal (right). Their confidence has been well rewarded, as the Project has not only benefitted many thousands of children and young people around the 8 countries down at  the southern tip of Africa, but has also generated surpluses for other club projects, including  donations back to The Rotary Foundation, where the project is very much in keeping with their 6 key focus areas of giving.



The books are purchased by Rotary Clubs which in turn donate them to their local schools and libraries, for the benefit of underprivileged youngsters. The books have gone largely to southern African clubs, with a sprinkling to clubs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In addition RC Calgary (D5360 in Canada) generously purchased dictionaries for their projects at RC Jinja in Uganda, and clubs in Sierra Leone.


We were fortunate mid-2012 to receive additional funding by way of a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant which funded 3,400 Usborne Illustrated English Dictionaries, courtesy of RC Chester in UK and RC Kromboom, matched by The Rotary Foundation.


We were equally fortunate in early 2013 to receive another Matching Grant, supported by RC Hunyani of D9210 and RC Denver Mile High in Colorado in USA, plus funding from The Rotary Foundation; credit for raising these vital additional funds went to PDG (2004/05) Chris Molam.


The Southern African price structure is in the region of 50% of the UK retail price and includes shipping/clearing costs from Dubai to any Southern African port. This low price is possible due to our three generous sponsors


  • Transportation from the port of disembarkation to major South African distribution points is sponsored by DHL Couriers, as one of their many CSI initiatives.
  • Logistical support between Johannesburg and Harare is provided by Speedlink courtesy of PP Elwyn Mundungwe, for countries north of our South African/Zimbabwe border.
  • Assistance with importation and clearing is provided by Rotarian Mike Walwyn (RC Newlands) via Nexlog of Cape Town.



The Project was initially called Dictionary Project, then changed to The Dictionary & Atlas Project and has now settled on The Rotary Learning Library, to reflect our growing selection of publications.


We are keen to upload load photographs of club interaction with beneficiary organisations and encourage Rotarians to forward medium sized jpg photographs to admin@dictionariesforafrica.com together with success stories or compliments, which will be added to the TESTIMONIALS section of our website.