Author Archive

Fifth Grader donates 100th Guitar to Nicaraguan Children

November 30, 2010


A 10-year-old girl in Wichita is raising money to help Books for Life to provide guitars to kids in Nicaragua who can’t afford musical instruments. She has sponsored the 100th guitar donated through HeartStrings, a program of local nonprofit Trees for Life.

Adara Claphan, 10, is not only learning to play guitar herself—she also is raising money so that poor children in Nicaragua will have guitars to play. One of the guitars she is sponsoring is the 100th to be donated through HeartStrings, a program of Wichita nonprofit Trees for Life International—bringing the count halfway to the overall goal of 200 guitars.

Adara, a fifth grader at a public school in Wichita, was inspired when she visited the Trees for Life office with her grandfather. There she met Balbir Mathur, president of Trees for Life. Mathur told her about HeartStrings, a movement to provide guitars to kids in Nicaragua who can’t afford musical instruments.

The guitars, which normally sell for $350 each, are being offered by the Manuel Rodriguez & Sons guitar company for only $50 each as a gift to children in impoverished areas of Nicaragua. The guitars will go to libraries established by a branch of Trees for Life called “Books for Life.” That way, each guitar will be enjoyed by many children.

The idea struck a chord with Adara. “I told Balbir, ‘Actually, I play guitar, so that would be pretty cool if I could send one of these.’ And he told me, ‘Well, you could make this into a fundraiser.’”

Later in her visit, Adara saw volunteers making jewelry out of beads from India. That sparked another idea. “I said, ‘Why don’t I sell these, and that’s how I’ll make the money.’”

Adara started selling the necklaces and earrings for $5 each to people at her school and church, and going door-to-door in her neighborhood. She explains to people, “Each time I raise $50, they will send a guitar to Nicaragua.”

Adara says the response has been positive and generous. “People say, ‘Oh, that’s really nice that you’re doing that.’ And sometimes I get, ‘I don’t want the jewelry, but I will just give you $5 to donate.’… And one time a girl bought three necklaces and then handed me $30 and told me to keep the change.”

Adara is excited about giving the 100th guitar through HeartStrings. “It makes me feel really good, because I heard the goal was 200 guitars, and I sent the 100th guitar. And I hope to send a couple more, so I got more necklaces and earrings, and I’ve been selling again.”

Adara is part of a growing number of people joining the HeartStrings movement, which is headed by Ann Garvey and Richard Crowson. “Music is the international language of the heart; it can truly change lives,” says Garvey. “We hope to provide tools with which these children can bring to life the music in their hearts.”

“This is a movement in which anyone can participate,” Crowson adds. “For only $50, someone can provide a quality instrument. Or, a share of a guitar can be given for as little as $5.”

When asked why she is reaching out to help children in another part of the world, children she will never meet, Adara explains: “I thought about how much I like playing guitar, and how it would make another kid in a different country feel—happier than I feel, because I know they’re probably a poor country and don’t get many things like this.

“I always think, when I get a Christmas gift, I feel there’s kids that don’t get Christmas, and there’s kids that don’t even get meals every day. So, when I send a guitar, they kind of get a Christmas gift.”

For information or to donate: or
Contact: info(at)booksforlife(dot)org
Phone: 316-945-6929
Or, send a check payable to: Books for Life, 3006 W. St. Louis, Wichita, KS


Books for Life Supports Early Reader Project

November 24, 2010


 Three years David Grayson of Dodge City, Kansas started a project designed to encourage area children to read. Grayson built 15 bookcases and stocked them with books for beginning readers. This year with the assistance of Walt Redburn, John Featerstone and Marsha Gomez 50 bookcases were built for area students.

Bookcases waiting for a new home


 To insure that each of the 50 bookcases came well stocked with books, David Kimble, executive director of Trees for Life International, in cooperation with Dillon’s Food Stores provided 1,000 books for the project. The students receiving the bookcases were selected by their respective elementary schools and from Bright Beginning Head Start and Sacred Heart Cathedral School. Each bookcase is personalized with a plaque bearing the child’s name, and a certificate with their sponsor’s name on it. Grayson uses individuals and local businesses to sponsor the cost of a bookcase.

Sponsor Walt Redburn with Student

And what about next year? If 50 bookcases filled with books were good, then 65 has to be even better, right?  Well that’s what David Grayson and his carpenter elves think.

A True Thanksgiving – Books – Books for Life

November 16, 2010



Lamiel Phiri, a native of Harare, Zimbabwe, connected with Trees for Life a little over ten years ago. Since that time Books for Life (the educational component of Trees for Life) has been evolved with Lamiel and the various orphanage schools that are his heart and soul. Lamiel, a man whose heart is bigger than his body when it comes to providing for the schools and its children sent the photograph of some of the students with some of their new books provided by Books for Life. In our society it is hard for us to understand how a school could even exist without books, unfortunately that too often is the case.

 Lamiel writes that the orphanage schools did not originally have books and “these will continue to go a long way in giving the children the much-needed books to read and practice reading….” He closed his letter of thanks by saying, “Well the tears have dried up now and you must see the radiant smile I have for a prayer answered. I love those children and you have just unlocked one of their headaches by providing books for the children.”


Books for Life Pledges 1,000,000 Books

October 30, 2010


 Balbir Mathur, PresidentTrees for Life and its educational branch, Books for Life pledged to help provide 1,000,000 books to the children of Nicaragua to be delivered over the next 10 years. The pledge was made at the Nicaraguan Librarian conference October 7, 2010 in Managua and was dedicated to all who are making life better on this earth.

The conference was co-hosted by Books for Life, Bertold Brecht bookmobile, Library Arts and Hispamer publisher and bookseller Jesus and Doribel de Santiago. The conference was the second annual library conference and was held in Managua, Nicaragua. The conference was attended by over 170 librarians and community library supporters. The conference grew out of the sponsoring coalitions desire to provide books to the participating local libraries and for the Books for Life project to build 200 libraries in Nicaragua. The first library was completed in Tisma in 2005. Since that date  51 library projects have been completed. In looking at the enthusiasm and involvement of the participating communities it becomes apparent what libraries mean to the educational future of the children of Nicaragua.

Books vs. Earthquakes

October 16, 2010

Earthquakes can’t stop books from teaching and kids from learning and people from across the world from reaching out.

This is the message I took away from the 8,000 books which were lovingly donated by the people of Kansas through their local Dillon’s, a division of The Kroger Company. These books were donated in 2010 in support of the “Teach the World to Read” Kansas youth Book Drive. The books were sent to Pakistan by Books for Life and will be distributed through the Church World Service relief agency.

I was struck by these pictures that show the heavy damage incurred at the Girls Primary School in the Qamber Shahdadkot District of Pakistan which is one of the schools where the books from Books for Life will be distributed. This damage did not deter these determined students from school where each book holds the potential to open a new and exiting window to the world.

In the future, look here for my comments and pictures of Books for Life programs in action.

To learn more about how you can make a difference, go to Books for Life for more information or to make a donation.

Trees for Life President, Balbir Mathur to visit Nicaragua

September 26, 2010

TFL President, Balbir Mathur will visit Nicaragua during the next two weeks to meet with the civic and community leaders of the 42 communities  that are developing libraries in partnership with  Books for Life.  Books for life has set a goal of creating 200 new libraries in Nicaragua. Balbir will also be visiting  future sites for partnership libraries that will be developed in concert with participating communities. For information about the developing libraries go to Books for Life .

Books for Life is proud to announce 100% funding for the Tisma Library

September 25, 2010

Tisma Public Library

The Books for Life library in Tisma Nicaragua is the first of the 42 libraries under development  by Books for Life to achieve 100% funding according to  Balbir Mathur, President of  Trees for Life. Tisma is a small town with a population of about 5,000 people.

The completion of their goal is a testament to the dedication they have for their community and the future of their children.

HeartStrings at Walnut Valley Festival

September 20, 2010

Kansas Acoustic Arts Association (KAAA) members Jim Colucci and Lynn Young (rt) pass out flyers about HeartStrings — a Books for Life program in which people are helping to provide guitars for children in Nicaragua. The KAAA group shared information about HeartStrings at their booth at the Walnut Valley Festival, a well-known acoustic music festival held annually in Winfield, Kansas.

HeartStrings will provide guitars at the Books for Life libraries in Nicaragua. The guitars are being made available by Manuel Rodriguez & Sons, makers of world-renowned classical guitars. You can join in by providing a guitar to the children of Nicaragua for only $50 — or giving a share of a guitar for as little as $5.

To Give:
or call 316.945.6929