March 13, 2013
Jeanne Smith has been a long-time supporter and volunteer of Trees for Life. She and her husband, Herb, have been to Ethiopia many times to share their love of education. Here’s an excerpt she wrote about the importance of education through teaching materials that were donated to Ethiopia Reads by way of Books for Life – an educational branch of Trees for Life.
Ethiopian youth enjoy a folktale of Ethiopia in the
very first free library in Addis-Ababa
A Library? What Is A Library?
by Jeanne Jacoby Smith
I was excited to learn that Books for Life is collaborating with Ethiopia Reads to send instructional materials for teachers to use with children in their new school libraries. It jogged my memory about a conversation that LeAnn Clark, a volunteer with Ethiopia Reads, overheard there recently:
A child: “Come! See a ‘library’!”
Her friend: “What is a ‘library’?”
Libraries are treasures for poor children in Ethiopia. Their schools, assuming they attend one, have no books. Most girls and boys have never held a book in their hands. Children learn by reciting after the teacher.
In 2005, Herb and I traveled to Ethiopia to visit the first free children’s library in the country. When all its seats were filled, the large iron gates to the compound clanged shut. Many children remained outside, disappointed.
The most heartbreaking scenes I witnessed on my trips to Ethiopia have been young children by the roadside begging for a living. The greatest gift we can offer them is access to knowledge through free libraries and education. Literacy has tremendous power to catapult the poor into a promising future. I commend both Books for Life and Ethiopia Reads for their foresight and compassion.
February 9, 2013
Most valentines go to just one person. And that’s good. But give your loved one a “Gift from the Heart” from Trees for Life and you’ll be sending a valentine to the world.
Just select one of nine gift ideas that help people lift themselves out of poverty. Then create a customized card to either print or email to your valentine. With your “Gift from the Heart,” you’ll be sharing love with people around with world.
See More Gift Ideas
October 12, 2012
In the process of doing Spring cleaning three of our volunteers have been finding homes for items no longer needed at Trees for Life. Rafael Jimenez of Wichita, KS, saw online we had carpet squares to give away and came to pick them up. He will take them to Matamoros, Mexico for a children’s room in a church so they won’t have to sit on concrete during their studies.
We also had brand new and gently used Spanish and bilingual children’s books provided by generous donors throughout the state of Kansas to send with him. Rafael and his church, First Christian Church of Haysville, KS, have provided support in Matamoros through many trips to take supplies and provide encouragement and hope
From the left: Ron Van Sickle, Rafael Jimenez and
Bob Hayes loading carpet squares
February 15, 2012
Books for Life is about bringing books to children around the globe to instill the joy of reading. That includes places in the USA when we are able to network with other organizations such as the Dodge City Bookcase Project.
Above is a photo of David and Sheila Grayson of Dodge City, KS and the staff at Trees for Life in Wichita, KS. The Graysons founded the organization called the Dodge City Bookcase Project. The Graysons facilitate the making of bookcases for children in need. The children are given a starter bag of books and a hand-made wooden bookcase with a plaque that has the child’s name on it.
Trees for Life coordinated with Dillons Stores in 2009 with a state-wide Kansas book drive. As a result of that drive, people are still bringing books to the office. We were able to donate books for the Bookcase Project in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Graysons came to Wichita in November, 2011 and loaded their car with 500 books to give a starter set of books for each child when they received their bookcases on November 12, 2011. The Graysons (bottom of step on the left and right sides) are pictured with the books.
The following is an article from the Dodge Globe newspaper that tells more about the Bookcase Project:
October 15, 2011
The gift of reading: Dodge City man helps promote literacy
Where there are books, there is reading.
Where there is reading, education happens.
Where education happens, people prosper.
February 1, 2012
On a small island, just west of the coast of Africa, two Peace Corps volunteers are providing the opportunity to have books available for primary age children as well as adults.
Santiago (lower center), Cape Verde Islands west of Africa
Adam Kendis and his wife Jen Epstein will spend two years on the island of Santiago. There is a high illiteracy rate in Cape Verde, partly because the people speak “Kriolu” in their everyday life and it is a spoken language only. The language in schools is Portuguese, and students struggle to read and understand very basic sentences in that language.
Adam and Jen will soon be receiving a box of books from Books for Life, which will be useful in working with adults in the community who speak various levels of English as well as introducing the experience of reading for fun to children.
Adam shared an event at their home to emphasize the interest in reading that they are experiencing: ”This past weekend, Jen and I had 30+ people (from the village where we did training) over for lunch. We have a coffee table that we keep stacked with books — books on gardening, picture books about the history of Cape Verde, children’s books and some magazines from the states. From little kids to women in their 60′s, the books were a hit with people looking through them for an average of about 15 minutes per person. Most of our books are in English so people mainly looked at the pictures and tried to read the headlines and captions, but our books in Portuguese were a big hit as well.”
This dedicated couple would also like to get books printed in the “Kriolu” language before they end their term of Peace Corps service in Sept 2013. Perhaps Books for Life can help with that as well!
Where there are books, there is reading.
Where this is reading, education happens.
Where education happens, people prosper.
August 23, 2011
From: Jeffery Faus – Featured in Alternative Gifts Catalog
Alternative Gifts International enables caring people to give “Books for the Joy of Reading” to children in Nicaragua in honor of a friend or loved one. Read more
Trees for Life is one of only 35 agencies featured in the 2011-2012 Alternative Gifts International catalog. The catalog includes a gift item that enables donors to provide books for children in Nicaragua through Trees for Life. Their online catalog also offers the gift item: Books for the Joy of Reading.
Alternative Gifts International is a non-profit organization that inspires support for humanitarian and environmental causes. They offer donors the option to designate charitable gifts through carefully selected agencies in the name of their relatives, friends and associates.
Trees for Life, through our educational branch Books for Life, has helped people in Nicaragua establish or improve 62 community libraries. People from the community take ownership of the project, providing partial funding, a building, staff, and other resources for their library.
By purchasing the gift of “Books for the Joy of Reading” from the Alternative Gifts International catalog, donors can provide books to children at these Books for Life libraries in Nicaragua in honor of a friend or loved one.
August 18, 2011
Jesus Santiago of Liberia Hispamer - Book for Life – Nicaragua presenting one of the last of the 200 guitars from the Manual Rodriguez classical guitars to the Nicaraguan Librarians. Jesus took great joy in watching the outgoing pride and happiness exhibited by the librarians that represented the libraries in the Libreria Hispamer – Books for Life group. The guitars were a gift to the children of Nicaragua from the Manuel Rodriguez Guitar company and the supporters of Trees for Life.
June 23, 2011
On June 6, I wrote about Balbir Mathur and Jesus de Santiago distributing the Manuel Rodriguez guitars to the libraries in the Books for Life – Nicaragua program. Well, there is a second part to that story. When Balbir was preparing to leave Nicaragua his host presented him a very large package of Nicaraguan coffee, one that would take one entire suitcase to carry.
“It is solidarity!” … said Chico Castro with a broad smile, and shook his fist emphatically. “It is not from me. It is from all of us!”
“Please share this coffee with all those who helped provide these guitars. As they enjoy this coffee, they will feel our thanks.
“Tell them, Gracias, amigo. Come and have the next cup of coffee with us in Nicaragua, and we shall sing together.””
This was their response to the wonderful generosity that had brought 200 guitars to the Books for Life Nicaragua libraries. They wanted to give a gift from their hearts and their homes to the wonderful people who had donated to the guitar project. It was their gift of solidarity to people who care.
Upon returning Balbir figured out how to distribute the coffee to the individuals who donated. A local company, The Spice Merchant, ground the coffee and volunteers packaged it and tied Gracias Amigo cards containing the story to the packages. The Board of Directors for Trees for Life was scheduled to meet the following week and a large number of donors were invited to a special lunch afterward. Local donors unable to attend would have their coffee hand delivered by Trees for Life staff and the balance would be mailed. You might think that would be the end of the process but that would not even be close.
The emails, phone and personal responses that we have received over a small package of “solidarity” Nicaraguan coffee have been joyous and heartwarming. We have had responses from Spain to China, from Nicaragua to the US. Locally, the packages have produced joyous hearts, an impromptu guitar session (with one of the guitars) and true tears of joy. We beleave Margaret Mead was right, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
Thank You, my friend!
June 6, 2011
“Beautiful, simply beautiful,” were among the excited responses as the first 80 of the two hundred guitars were recently handed out in Managua, Nicaragua. Recipients were actually dancing with joy as Balbir Mathur, President of Trees for Life/Books for Life and Jesus de Santiago of HISPAMER Bookstore, Nicaragua distributed the Manuel Rodriguez classical guitars to the Nicaraguan Librarians. The librarians represented the 53 Books for Life and Books for Life – Nicaragua libraries. Balbir related what a joyful and moving experience the event was for Jesus, himself and all of the participants. The two hundred guitars were a gift to the children of Nicaragua by the Manuel Rodriguez and Sons Guitar makers of Spain.
- Jesus de Santiago with guitar and Balbir Mathur, far right at the presentation ceremony
May 13, 2011
In 2009 Trees for Life President Balbir Mathur spoke at an international conference Campus of Excellence in Madrid, Spain. This was the third year for the conference which was founded by Jose Calvo, Director, Campus of Excellence. Balbir was presented a with a world-renowned Manuel Rodriguez classical guitar by Manuel Rodriguez, President of the Manuel Rodriguez Guitar Company. The Manuel Rodriguez company has been creating Spanish style guitars for 4 generations. In conversation with Balbir, on behalf of the Manuel Rodriguez Guitar Company, Manuel agreed to donate 200 guitars to the Trees for Life partner libraries in Nicaragua if Trees for Life and Books for Life –Nicaragua would raise funds to cover the shipping and import fees.
Balbir Mathur receiving Manuel Rodriguez guitar
Dedicated TFL volunteers and supporters quickly raised the funds for associated expenses and the guitars were soon on their way. On May 20, Balbir will travel to Nicaragua to participate in the dedication and distribution of the guitars. Representatives from the 53 Books for Life Nicaragua libraries will be on hand when Jesus Santiago, President, Books for Life –Nicaragua and Balbir present the guitars for the benefit of children who now not only have libraries and computers but also the ability to make music.
To learn more about Trees for Life and its programs please join us at Trees for Life.