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.