One day John Wood, Founder and CEO of Room to Read, was trekking through Nepal visiting some primary schools. He was moved by the warmth of the students and teachers, but could not believe the crushing poverty and lack of resources.
In one school he visited, the only two books available were a Danielle Steel novel and a Lonely Planet guidebook, left behing by travellers. One of the headmasters commented to him,”Perhaps someday you will come back with books”. He came back a year later with 8 donkeys and thousands of books. Over 400 children lined up to greet him. They were bearing flowers to welcome him and were so enthusiastic to be able to get a chance to get a book.
He then decided that he wanted to make a difference, and dedicate his life to encouraging literacy throughout the developing world. He quit his senior executive position with Microsoft and started Room to Read.
Room to Read’s mission is to ensure that every child receives the lifelong gift of education at an early stage. This gift helps empower all children involved and will ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries and future generations. Through this opportunity, the cycle of poverty can be broken one child at a time.
Room to Read is helping build schools and libraries across the world. To date they have:
– impacted the lives of around 1.3 million children
– established over 3 870 libraries in the world
– constructed 287 schools
– donated over 1.4 million English language children’s books
– funded over 3 448 long term girls’ scholarships
– established 136 computer and language labs
What’s also impressive is this organization sources new content from local writers and illustrators and publishes local language children’s books.
To increase long term success, Room to Read enlists community involvement. Villages often raise a significant portion of expenses in the form of dedicated space, labor, materials and/or small amounts of cash. This helps build communities and maximizes participation and expertise in the programs. Local staff are hired who are familiar with the language and customs and understand the educational system and its needs.
Wow! What great accomplishments! However, there is still much more work to be done. With our help and the help of the Oprah Winfrey Show, the goal is to have 20 000 bilingual libraries by 2020. The organization is currently in Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Laos and South Africa. There are plans to expand to Zambia, Bangladesh and Latin America.
You can help change the world by donating today. Every dollar donated = 1 book being donated. $100 dollars = 100 books and an opportunity to help 100 million children in the world that are not enrolled in primary school.