Retired technician finds joy restoring old books

Isaac Bukita repairing books at Lessos Technical Training Institute (TTI)  in Nandi county. [Edward Kosut, Standard]

When Isaac Bukita retired four years ago, he thought he was going to enjoy his time at home after serving for long in the publishing sector.

For over 20 years, Bukita, who hails from Kavosi village in Nyaribari Chache, had worked at the Kenya Bureau of Standards as a senior technician in charge of binding and covering books printed at the firm.

“I could still be able to work but there were no organisations or institutions to offer employment opportunities that suited my profession and preferably which could allow me to commute from home,” he says.

After retirement, he tried his hand at various income-generating activities to sustain himself and his family. He initiated poultry farming, which eventually became unsustainable as diseases swept away his poultry.

Soon after, the 64-year-old says he heard of many institutions getting rid of worn-out books from their library shelves and he thought of an idea to salvage them.

He reached out to local institutions including primary and secondary schools, and technical and vocational training institutions with the idea to restore worn-out books.

“At first, people thought it was almost impossible to repair books and restore them to their original state, but they were surprised when I managed to repair good samples and they positively appreciated my services,” he says.

Speaking to The Saturday Standard at Lessos Technical Training Institute (TTI) in Nandi County, Bukita goes about his work as mounds of books wait to be fixed.

He is for the second week sorting out books in one of the lecture rooms that has been converted into a yard for written-off books.

“Books are rich with knowledge and they need to be serviced to lengthen their time on the library shelves and to be used by upcoming generations,” he says.

He uses glue, hard cover materials, staples, threads, geometrical rulers and special binding materials as his tools of trade. The cost of binding a book is between Sh400 and Sh700 depending on its size and volume.

“I make over Sh100,000 per month and it is a good job that has sustained me for four years since I retired in 2019,” he says. “I am looking forward to introducing more youth to the trade to earn a living and also support education.”

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