The sun burned off the morning chill and the only sounds were the river and feet walking along a dirt path on the three-hour hike to a school in Bahundanda, Nepal. The trekker reached the school after climbing 1300 vertical feet in the last mile. The school had eight classrooms, each overcrowded with students who sat crammed on benches without desks. The headmaster showed the trekker the library. There were so few books that the teachers did not want to risk the children damaging them, so they were pad-locked in a cabinet. The books were likely ones left behind by other backpackers, and therefore not age appropriate for the students. Before leaving, the headmaster said to the trekker: “Perhaps, sir, you will someday come back with books.”
This unplanned detour on a 21-day hiking trip caused John Wood to quit his successful career as a technology executive working for Microsoft in China and to establish Room to Read. Since 2000, Room to Read has built 221 schools, established 3370 libraries, donated 1.2 million books, funded 2,344 long-term girls’ scholarships, and established 108 computer and language labs.
I recently read John’s book titled “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.” My goal for 2007 is to raise $11,000 to fund a complete school in Nepal. Please join me in this endeavor and contact me at blog [at] waltmire dot com.
RTR seeks to intervene early in the lives of children and help provide them with an education and the lifelong gift of literacy. The countries of current focus are Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Africa, South Africa.
To increase the likelihood for success, Room to Read (RTR) enlists community involvement. Our challenge grants require villages to raise a significant portion of the overall expenditures through donated land, labor, materials and cash, thereby allowing our cash donations to go further so that we can help more villages. Our challenge grants act as catalysts for community building while also maximizing the local participation and expertise brought to our programs to ensure they are run efficiently and effectively.