These kids have a good reason to look so happy. On Monday afternoon, they were among the first students at Champa’s school to enjoy a big box of English-language books that just arrived.
The two older students in the second photo enjoyed the books, too. The box included everything from illustrated children’s books to short story collections.
The school got them all for free. Champa requested them from Darien Book Aid, a nonprofit organization in Connecticut that’s been sending free books to developing communities since 1949. Its volunteers currently ship 20-30 boxes each week, or nearly 20 tons annually, to 190 countries and across the United States.
Maureen Shanley, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, picked out and packed the books for Champa’s box, along with a personal note. Maureen is also active in Connecticut Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. She and others work with the Darien Book Aid’s Peggy Minnis to send shipments to Peace Corps volunteers worldwide. They also send free books elsewhere in the developing world, and to libraries, prisons, hospitals and Native American and Appalachian groups in the United States.
Until now, Liceul Teoretic Andrei Vartic in Ialoveni has had only a single small shelf of English books, few of them appealing, as you can see in the photo. Many of the students study English, so it’s no wonder the school librarian, Doamna Zinaida, was excited as she helped Champa open the box and pull out the treasures inside.
I’m so impressed by this organization. They’re doing something simple and meaningful, year after year, to improve people’s lives and make friends for our country.
Darien Book Aid depends on donations to help cover their shipping costs so, if you’re moved by the photos you see here, I encourage you to support them. That’s what we plan to do after we return home.