I met Julie Evans when I spoke at a reading conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota. At that point, I was sharing what felt like a big and tough dream–that we could help Yohannes Gebregeorgis move from his job as a children’s librarian in San Francisco back to Ethiopia where he wanted to start children’s libraries. People were interested but skeptical. It’s hard to donate to a dream. Jule, though, said, “Can I help?” She wrote and sent out a press release that was picked up by the Christian Science Monitor and became an important step on the path to the 43 children’s libraries that now exist in a place where Ethiopian kids often learn to read but then have utterly no books to read.
Recently, Julie got in touch to ask again if she could help. She’s been working on pulling together pictures and information for Delta Kappa Gamma teachers in Pennsylvania who, last year, raised $14,000 for Ethiopia Reads. With some of that money, Yohannes started a fifth donkey mobile library in a small town called Bui. With more of the money, Ethiopia Reads brought out a bilingual version of my picture book Trouble (with thanks to Durga Burnhard, the illustrator who agreed to donate use of her work).
It’s cool to think that a group of PA teachers (wh0 took this picture of me with the Nittany lion) helped these Ethiopian-American students at Haggerty (who, with their fellow students raised more than $500 for Ethiopia Reads) have a book in one of Ethiopia’s languages.
And Julie is using her volunteer efforts to write about it all.
And a volunteer (Down Home Books) is selling Trouble on amazon.com and sending the proceeds to Ethiopia Reads (www.ethiopiareads.org).
I love it.