Books for Kaloleni Primary School in Kenya

July 31, 2013 by

Jaine Kamau wrote to Books for Life, an educational branch of Trees for Life, telling that her Rotary Club in Nakuru, Kenya wanted to start a mobile library service for the families in her community. Two boxes were sent to the school and community to increase the number of books for the mobile library.


Children of the Kaloleni Primary School, Kenya,
holding books sent from Books for Life.


Jaine Kamau standing in front of the
Kaloleni Primary School, Kenya.


Jaine Kamau with one of the teachers of
Kaloleni Primary School, Kenya

Jaine says, “We hope for a long partnership with you.”

Give Now


Books Reach Austistic Children in Kenya

May 23, 2013 by

Box of books to autistic children in Kenya

The photo above shows a tree planting by the youth
in appreciation for the Books for Life received.

A request came from Kenya in March of 2013 for books from Books for Life. James Karanja, who has a Special Ed degree from Maseno University and a Certificate in Autism, is working with 20 children and young adults on the autism spectrum from poor families in Nairobi. Working with kids with special needs has always been James’ passion since he was in high school. He was a pioneer teacher of the Autism Unit in a Nairobi school.

In 2011 James started an organization that could make a positive impact on the lives of those on the autism spectrum and help them achieve beyond their disability. He teamed up with Sara Jamal and some parents of kids with autism to found Autism Support Center-Kenya. James greatest inspiration comes from playing, laughing, dancing, learning and simply being in the company of kids with autism.

James is also involving kids in growing tree seedlings that are later adopted by the community to promote environmental conservation and raise funds for the group. The youth planted two trees in appreciation of the books and buttons we sent to them! We wish them “happy learning” with their box of books!

Help Books for Life and Trees for Life with a hand up to people worldwide wanting a life of hope through education.


A Library? What is a Library?

March 13, 2013 by

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 boys in a library

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.


Give Now

A Valentine for the World

February 9, 2013 by

A Valentine for the World

tfl heart gift 2

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.

Gifts from the Heart

See More Gift Ideas Button

See More Gift Ideas

Donations of carpet and books continue to give

October 12, 2012 by

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

Men and carpet squares going to Mexico

From the left: Ron Van Sickle, Rafael Jimenez and
Bob Hayes loading carpet squares

Donate now

Dodge City Bookcase Project

February 15, 2012 by

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.

David and Sheila Grayson and Trees for LIfe Family

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.

Peace Corps couple help bring books to Santiago, Cape Verde Islands

February 1, 2012 by

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.

Cape Verde Map

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.

Give Now button

Trees for Life Alternative Gifts Catalog

August 23, 2011 by

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.

Give Now

Guitar Distribution Complete

August 18, 2011 by









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.


Coffee – It’s Soldarity

June 23, 2011 by

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!