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A Message from Brad Wirz
Founder & CEO
Gone Reading International, LLC
Let me tell you about an amazing program run by Ethiopia Reads, one of the two main recipients of our funding. Their work first caught my attention when I heard about their “Donkey Mobile Libraries,” a phrase which would catch any book lover’s attention. It gets to the heart of how real and difficult their challenges are from the “problems” we experience in the developed world: How do you create a culture of reading where no infrastructure exists? How do you actually distribute books and keep them from the elements and make sure they are accessible to even the most remote corners of an undeveloped country such as Ethiopia?
In 2005 Ethiopia Reads faced this very problem. When someone realized that the area actually had a surplus of donkeys, the Donkey Mobile Libraries were born. Oddly similar to the “bookmobile” model in the West, these donkey-pulled libraries (click here to view more pictures) arrive in each village on a pre-determined date, with the local schoolchildren anxiously awaiting its arrival.
The kids spend the day experiencing – many for the first time – the magic of books, perhaps under the shade of some trees, always with the presence of a trained librarian. The kids can’t get enough, as they spend the day mesmerized by what they’ve seen, read and heard.
In the developing world, especially in rural areas, kids typically learn to read from their teacher writing on a blackboard; there are no books. Can we even imagine? Without books in their lives, their reading skills quickly diminish, and often disappear completely by adulthood.
Helping to fund the Donkey Mobile Libraries – and other library programs around the world – is exactly why I launched GoneReading. We’re just getting started, but over time (and with the help of people like you!) we’re going to bring large-scale funding to these amazing programs. No one should have to grow up without books and reading in their lives!