Creating a Birthday Tradition of Giving Back
April 2011 - Lucy celebrated her 5th birthday in Lexington, KY on January 14th. But her mother, Joanna, made sure it wasn't just an ordinary birthday celebration. Each invitee was asked to bring their favorite book to donate to IBP instead of a gift.
Joanna, a mother of two internationally adopted girls, wants both her daughters' birthdays to be an opportunity to help others and give back. "We want our children to know how blessed we believe our family is and as a result of that blessing we want them to know there is an obligation to help other people," Joanna explains. "What we do not want is for them to grow to expect a table full of gifts."
With this project, her young daughter and friends could actively participate in helping another child by giving their favorite book. Lucy's party of nine donated 20 books for African Children's Libraries in Liberia. If you are interested in doing a similar project, please contact Xeenia Tariq at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throwing a Rave For Books!
March 2011 - A few years ago, a University of Kentucky student gave a speech to a captivated audience about how she became a refugee at the age of 12 when her family fled the war in Kosovo and came to the United States. She realized students in Kosovo did not have the same access to books as Americans. That college student was Ardena Gojani who was also at the time a dedicated volunteer at the International Book Project. She partnered with IBP to collect books to send to libraries in Kosovo.
This story touched Linda Frost, the Director of the Eastern Kentucky University Honors Program. She decided IBP needed to be helped with their mission of promoting literacy in developing countries. On January 27th, the Honors Program held a dance to raise money and collect books for IBP that they called a sophisti rave. The Honors Program wanted to add some sophistication to the usual rave so they encouraged attendees to dress formal and the DJ played remixes of classical music along with the usual techno music.
Tickets were sold for $5 or people could donate books in lieu of paying. Over a hundred people attended the sophisti rave and raised $232 for IBP. Linda Frost was very proud of her students and said, "I'm glad I was able to do it. It just makes sense for an Honors Program to support literacy."
If you would like to have a fundraiser for IBP, please contact Marketing Coordinator Xeenia Tariq at email@example.com or 859-254-6771.
IBP Fundraiser at Smashing Tomato!
January 2011 - The International Book Project is partnering with Smashing Tomato to hold a fundraiser on January 25th.
With this fundraiser we are hoping to raise enough money to send books to Kenya where they will be used to build a college library in the city of Nyahururu. These books are desperately needed, and you have an opportunity to help.
On January 25th, present the voucher located below to any of the two Smashing Tomato locations in Lexington so 10% of the purchase can go to the Kenyan Project! 10% percent goes a long way considering it takes around $1 to send one book overseas.
You can print off as many vouchers as you like to pass out to friends and family.
Making a Difference by Providing a Library
by Devon Bellamy
November 2010 - Imagine driving down the street in Guatemala City, and having an eleven-year old come by and tap on your window. This kid has no shoes, ripped pants, and maybe a shirt. The kid tries to sell you something, ranging from bananas to toys or shirts. Now, you are probably asking yourself, “Why is a little kid working on the streets like that?” With my own two eyes, I have seen poor children begging for money or selling items at traffic lights on the streets of Guatemala City.
My grandmother used to work as the principal of a very underprivileged Guatemalan public elementary school named Francisco Morazán. Through the years, my grandmother told me many sad stories about this school, and I often wondered what it would be like to be a student at that school. So, this past June, I requested to visit the Francisco Morazán School in Guatemala. I learned the entire school has about 200 kids and about seven teachers. The facilities are in a very poor condition, with only one bathroom for all the students. One of the three toilets doesn’t even have a toilet seat. The library could be mistaken for a small office, consisting of two shelves with very few books; over half of them are of adult reading level. They have outdated computers, most of which do not even work. I also learned that over 90% of the kids who go to this school will drop out after 6th grade and go to work or beg on the streets.
I have started a project named “Making a Difference” and I am trying to raise money to buy the kids of the Morazán School necessities such as books, computers, trash cans, recycling bins, and soccer balls that actually aren’t flat. I met with my student council from Sayre School and we discussed the possibility of helping the Morazán School. We thought about having a book drive, but the difficulty we faced was that most of these books would be written in English, and these children only speak Spanish.
This is when the Dean of Students, Mrs. Marti Quintero, recommended we visit the International Book Project. She made an appointment for us and we were impressed when we found out that they had such a wide variety of books in Spanish. We collected about 200 new books from a variety of subjects, packed them in our suitcases, took them to Guatemala, and delivered them to the school in October. With all the money we raised, we were also able to purchase trash cans and recycling bins. One of our goals is to help the school start a recycling program that will allow them to earn money and help the environment.
Hopefully, we can continue building their library and promote reading, which may keep more kids in school. They may not understand the importance of education now, but with our help, maybe we can “Make a Difference."
Kickballin' For Books!
November 2010 - The Murray State University Honors Program Student Council (HPSC) recently held a philanthropy tournament called Kickballin' For Books with proceeds going to the International Book Project. The idea for the tournament came to a few Honor Program students while doing research in Murray's Waterfield Library where they discovered the library lacked the resources they needed. The books in the sciences section were published in the 1970's thus making them outdated and useless. Between the library shelves of the Waterfield Library, the idea for the event was born.
International Literacy Day Children's Book Drive - Sept. 8 -22
September 2010 - The International Book Project is partnering with Lexington-area Starbucks stores from September 8 through 22 to collect children's books for schools and libraries in Sierra Leone.
IBP is collecting new or gently used fiction and non-fiction children's books ranging from basic board books to young adult chapter books. Donations can be dropped off at any Starbucks company store in Lexington, Richmond, and Georgetown. Donations will also be collected at the Starbucks on EKU's campus.
Sierra Leone is still struggling to recover from a violent civil war that ravaged the country in the 1990s. Project organizer and Sierra Leone-native Hussainatu Bah explains the educational situation in her country, “Most schools in Sierra Leone have very poor classroom conditions and still lack sufficient learning materials; therefore, learning in many schools is minimal. Children, particularly girls, from the poorest households and those from rural areas in the northern regions are falling behind.” Education and books can be the bridge out of poverty for developing nations. Hussainatu and the International Book Project are hoping to collect 10,000 books to send back to Sierra Leone this fall.
Larger donations of books may be dropped off directly at the International Book Project warehouse Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm at 1440 Delaware Avenue, Lexington, KY.
Participating Starbucks Locations- Downtown Lexington
- Nicholasville Road
- Chevy Chase
- Richmond Road
- Boston Road
- Versailles Road
- Winchester Road
- Harrodsburg Road
- EKU Campus
Executive Director Visits Partner in Costa Rica
IBP sorts, packs, and ships hundreds of thousands of books each year, but we rarely get to see the books being used in our partner schools and libraries overseas. In May, my husband, Matt, and I led a study abroad trip through Asbury University to Costa Rica which included several days volunteering with one of IBP’s recipient partners, the Give-a-Book Foundation. In December, IBP shipped a sea container of 60,000 new English and Spanish books to this partner just outside Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose.
On Monday, the group helped sort and organize the books at the donated warehouse space in San Jose. It was like being in IBP’s warehouse, but in Costa Rica! On Tuesday, we delivered books and helped teach English at the Lady Gladys School, which provides free education to students in a very poor neighborhood in San Jose. It was humbling to see the passion and determination of the school’s founder, John Hawker, as he described the challenges of opening and running a charitable school.
On Wednesday, we took English books to a public school outside of San Jose. We spent several hours practicing English with the English classes meeting that day. The older students proudly read their new English chapter books to us, while the younger students boisterously practiced their English animal vocabulary with the large, colorful “Big Books” we had donated.
The trip reminded me how important IBP’s book donation program is to the hundreds of schools we serve. Even in Costa Rica, a country that invests heavily in education, the public school did not have basic library books for the students to practice their reading skills. It reminded me that even though we don’t always see it first-hand, our books help fill a huge educational void in much of the developing world.
IBP's Books as Bridges Program Celebrates Culture!
May 2010- Central Kentucky students and their families gathered at the Explorium Children’s Museum to sample dishes and make crafts from around the world at the Books as Bridges year-end event, Weird and Wonderful. Six countries were featured with colorful maps and displays including South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Ecuador, Uganda, and the Philippines.
The celebration allowed students to showcase what they learned about their pen-pals’ countries and ended with a recognition ceremony for students who completed
Volunteers led the students in cultural activities, including members from the Frankfort-Lexington Association of Ghanaians and the Bluegrass Filipino American Association. “I loved the dancing!” said Celia Dyer, a Books as Bridges teacher from Athens-Chiles Elementary School, about the traditional Filipino performance. “A lady at the Philippines station gave us some interesting information about culture, not just what you would read in a book."
Books as Bridges is finishing its third year as an international pen-pal program that encourages service projects in Central Kentucky classrooms. If you are a teacher and are interested in joining Books as Bridges or a parent that would like to get your child’s classroom involved, please contact Tracy Nearhoof, Books as Bridges Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books as Bridges would like to thank American Founders Bank for sponsoring Weird and Wonderful. This event would not have been possible without their support.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Continues to Serve Village Schools
April 2010--Imagine a classroom with 70 or more children. They are seated in pairs at a double desk, if there are enough desks. The room’s five or six textbooks are spread out among the kids during a reading period. Each student must wait his turn as the precious books move around among them. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in that room, sent to support the five village primary schools of Mahlaba-Cross in Limpopo Province, South Africa’s poorest.
I didn’t know what “support” meant, so for a week I walked the dusty roads to each of the schools, visiting each classroom to see what life was like, quietly slipping into a desk alongside a 3rd grade boy, only to have all the children stare at me and not the teacher. It didn’t take me anytime to see needs: books, paper, pencils, chairs, chalk, as well as basic necessities such as water and electricity.
Because I was old, white, and male (the trifecta in South Africa) and from America to boot, I was respected and listened to in ways I had not experienced before or since. I did what I could in my two years of service, including buying books at flea markets and yard sales to tote home in my giant backpack to spread around among the five schools. We developed classroom libraries of a few appropriate books, in castoff hand baskets from the kind manager of a grocery store in the nearby town of Tzaneen.
In the seven years I’ve been back home I’ve continued to send books given to me by friends, family, and school systems. Sometimes there are multiple copies of school books and a teacher’s manual which can transform a classroom. IBP is sending over 20,000 books to classrooms in Mahlaba-Cross. Can you imagine what it will be like for each child to have his own book and be able to read along as the teacher reads aloud? To someday, when teachers have adjusted a bit, be able to take a book home to study and show his family what he’s learning in school? Maybe to teach at home, sharing with his parents what they never saw?
This gift of books from IBP will do that for him and for many others. The five village primary schools, the two village secondary schools, and another primary school in neighboring Tzaneen will share in these riches. In all, about 4,500 children will benefit from these books in ways that none of us can imagine.
Strengthening Education in Post-Communist Albania
April 2010--University of Kentucky doctoral candidate Ridvan Peshkopia is all too familiar with the problems in Albanian higher education. A native of the Eastern European country, Ridvan grew up during the communist regime when access to books was often restricted to classics translated into Albanian by Marxist authors. Although the nation continues to progress since the fall of communism in 1990, the notorious lack of books in Albania created by the 45 year isolation remains a major problem for local universities.
Central Kentucky Students Eat Their Way Into World Culture
March 2010--Over 1,500 students throughout Central Kentucky are learning more about life in developing countries thanks to Books as Bridges Coordinator, Tracy Nearhoof. Since January, Tracy has visited over 20 participant classrooms to facilitate Cultural Literacy Lessons based on life in their pen-pal countries.
Filipino Teachers Send Books Home
October 2009--Students and teachers in six Philippine cities will receive textbooks and teaching aids thanks to an international service grant from the Rotary Club of Lexington.
In August, six Balikbayan boxes were sent to the hometowns of six Filipino exchange teachers who currently reside and teach in Fayette County, Kentucky. Each teacher who received a Rotary grant personally selected and packed books to be sent to their home school, library, or church.
The Philippine educational system closely mirrors that of the United States, making book donations from the US particularly useful. Over 89 million people live on the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines. The country's difficult island geography limits the availability of educational materials in remote areas.
Sahlee Ostil, a math teacher from Bolinao, Philippines was very excited about sending books home to her former students at the Bolinao School of Fisheries. "I thank the IBP for being a wonderful instrument to help needy countries in terms of books," remarks Ostil. "The school that will be receiving these books has very limited resources. Much more, a very strong typhoon hit the province where the school is and buildings were wrecked including the school library. The books will be a great help to the students as well as the teachers. Thank you so much."
Balikbayan Boxes More Efficient for Book Shipments to the Philippines
MARCH 2009--IBP is always looking for less expensive ways to ship books overseas. In March, we are sending our first Balikbayan boxes filled with books to the Philippines. IBP's Balikbayan boxes are approximately six times the size of an IBP M-bag. However, they are just two times the shipping cost of an M-bag, reducing the cost of shipping to the Philippines by more than 60%! Additionally, there is just a flat shipping charge per box regardless of weight, so these boxes are perfect for sending heavy items like books.
Balikbayan boxes are traditionally used by Filipino immigrants to send "pasalubong" or gifts back to their families at home. The word "Balikbayan" literally means "go back to hometown" in Filipino. Because this practice is such an important part of Filipino culture, entire shipping companies specialize in sending these boxes back to the Philippines from the United States. They are able to provide cheap shipping by combining
To see more pictures of the Junior League packing IBP's first shipment of Balikbayan boxes, please visit our blog.
Gregg Grant Matches Contributions for ex-Soviet States
JANUARY 2009--Myrzake Village, Kyrgyzstan, like so many other areas where Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) work, has a school with three to four books per class of 20 and even those are British English books from the 1960s. But PCV Deanna Evans in Myrzake has turned to the International Book Project for help in the long tradition of a partnership between IBP and the U.S. Peace Corps.
In 2009, IBP hopes to fortify this partnership with its new Gregg Matching Grant for ex-Soviet states and Eastern European countries. The grant will help schools and libraries in poor Eastern European and Central Asian countries, most of which used to be entirely reliant on the Soviet Union, to rebuild.
The US has actively placed PCVs in most of the ex-Soviet states since the early 1990s. And while the Peace Corps is considered a grassroots movement and is not associated with the U.S. State Department, it has been a major source of diplomacy and goodwill towards Americans.
Former Kazakhstan PCV recipient and IBP Board member Kevin Beiting says, "Receiving books from the IBP was one of the best things that happened to me as a Peace Corps Volunteer. To the people I was there to serve, I was the face of the United States, and for them to receive these books from the IBP really reinforced for them the goodwill and concern America has for the international community. It was a wonderful experience."
IBP currently has many active files in ex-Soviet States and Eastern European countries. In 2009, IBP plans to make this region a priority. For Deanna Evans, this is good news. In her recent application for books, she says, "The Peace Corps has a small budget and unfortunately cannot afford to equip schools with English language books--the volunteers, ourselves, make our own visual aids or have books sent from home."
If you are interested in donating money to help IBP with shipping costs for this PCV project, please donate here.
IBP Books Open Doors for Mayan Children
NOVEMBER 2008--Hundreds of children in Mayan villages throughout Guatemala are holding books in their hands for the first time thanks to the International Book Project and the Adventures in Reading Program. Because IBP sent over 22,000 Spanish language books to Guatemala last year, these Mayan children will finally have books to learn and read Spanish.
Most school teachers sent to teach in the Mayan villages only speak Spanish. Unfortunately, the students typically only speak their native Mayan language when entering school. Consequently, school is often a frustrating and demoralizing process for young Mayan children. Students routinely drop out of school as early as the first grade, never having the opportunity to learn to read or write.
However, Child Aid, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon, is implementing a program to reverse this trend. The Adventures in Reading Program sponsors bilingual Mayan girls training to be teachers to run reading programs during their traditional school recess between October and January. Each girl will go back to her village armed with over 30 books from IBP for her village's reading program. "When you see one of these programs in action, it is emotionally overwhelming. The children are so excited, engaged and proud of their increased ability to read," says Bob Vesely, Child Aid executive director.
Reading is one of the best ways for students to gain skills in a new language. However, there are literally no books in most of these villages, so a reading program was beyond their imagination. Because of this program and the books provided by IBP, these students will have the opportunity to learn Spanish, continue their education, and have greater opportunities in the future.
IBP is currently planning another shipment of books to Guatemala to help more Mayan children. To help IBP fund book shipments, please donate today.
International Book Project Creates Change in Ethiopia
SEPTEMBER 2008--In the small, poverty-stricken village of Mota, Ethiopia, only two out of every 10 residents can read. Serawit and Mistru, originally from the Mota area, have watched families struggle to find money for their children’s food, shelter, clothing, and education. They opened Kana Academy two years ago to break the cycle of poverty, knowing that better education leads to self-sufficiency.
Nearly all the subjects of Kana Academy are taught in English, including English Literacy and Character (Moral) Education, with the one exception of Amharic Literacy. Unfortunately, there is an extremely limited access to books, especially recent ones. With such a wide need for English books, Serawit and Mistru applied to IBP for help stocking the library in May 2008.
IBP sent Kana Academy an M-Bag of 50 picture-story books, readers, and dictionaries for the primary and elementary school with the help of a grant from the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation. Colorful picture books like Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon now populate the primary and elementary-level library.
By sending books, IBP is helping eliminate poverty through education. Lack of education plays a key role in poverty. Oftentimes, seeking prosperity means seeking education in other areas—and breaking up families. With IBP and Kana Academy’s partnership, education and prosperity are not limited to major urban areas in Ethiopia.