Thursday, March 22, 2007

room to read

I just finished reading a exhilarating book by John Wood, called Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children. On a backpacking trip to Nepal John was asked to bring back some books for the local school, since they only had 5 books (and these were locked up). Over the next 10 years he founded an non-profit organization, Room to Read, to build and fill libraries and schools in Nepal, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Laos, and Cambodia. Over 2600 libraries have been built and filled with over 1.2 million books.
The book tells the inspiring story of how Mr. Wood created a low-overhead, tangible result model that all charities should emulate.
I love to read and spent many hours in my childhood in the basement of the local library. My first real job was as a page: re-shelving, checking out books for patrons, and helping people find specific titles or subjects. I have often bought children's stories to leave at the pediatric clinic at our hospital for parents to read to their bored kids (especially being military-socialized medicine routinely means very long waits). Books have meant such a lot to me, I can't imagine what it would be like to not have access to a library. While reading this book, I imagined the thrill of watching pack animals laboring up the mountain pass carrying hundreds of books. While I can't fly to Nepal to stock the local school library, I can pass on a love of reading to my 5 little chickadees. In fact, perhaps I'll start today with an afternoon trip to the library.

1 comment:

onionboy said...

Interesting. I was thinking people would respond by writing about 'spiritual' books but then a book as practical in its application of charity as the one you've reviewed here is certainly a spiritual read.

My first real job was also as a page in a local library however, I was not a very good one and thus that job was also the first one from which I was fired. Oddly, after two careers, one in graphic arts and a longer one in Protestant ministry, I now earn my living as the main guy on the book floor of a Catholic book and gift shop. :)