What would your life be like if you were never able to read? Or even just be able to read anything besides textbooks? Do you think that would affect your life negatively? Do you think your intelligence level would be the same? What about your imagination? And creativity? What about all of the people in your community? If none of them have books either, will they be less smart? Will that effect your economy? Will that effect your laws and how your community is run?
I imagine I know your answers to all of these questions. I think everyone who reads this blog probably understands the importance of reading, especially reading for pleasure. We live in a society that has taught us the value of reading and education. Others are not so lucky. The questions above describe the reality of most developing countries.
For instance, in Cebu City, the second largest city in the Philippines, has one public library, which doesn’t even qualify as a library by American standards. It is only open during the hours that most people are at work or school, and people are not allowed to check out books! Additionally, most people in Cebu are in poverty and make approximately $3 a day, but books cost American prices: $10-$30. That much money could pay for a family to eat rice for weeks. I get bored so easily. I can’t imagine not being able to read books, watch tv, and watch movies when there is nothing else to do (which is often). There are often tropical storms that keep people trapped in their houses for days with nothing to do.
Why am I telling you this?
My name is Katie Woodard, and I asked Brooke if I could guest write a post to create awareness of this issue, and I am grateful for the opportunity. In America, every single one of us has opportunity. Do we deserve it more than the little kid who was born to homeless parents in Africa? No. As an American with so much, I feel it is my duty to give some back to those born with nothing. Even if you are in “poverty” in America, you are richer than 70% of the world, and you can take advantage of so many resources and nonprofits here to help you get on your feet. We should do that for all the kids that have less than you could ever imagine unless you see it yourself.
What can we do?
I have started a nonprofit called Extraordinary Extras, and you can check out the website or Blog to find out all about it, but basically our first program will be a Library/Youth Center in the Philippines where we will use Fun Education to Fight Poverty. We hope to raise enough funds to start it by Fall 2015. We will do reading challenges where we give kids incentives of fun activities such as swimming or gymnastics if they read books. This is to get them pumped up about reading because right now it is not a part of their culture at all. We will also teach the ones who don’t know how to read and teach English.
You can help in a lot of ways.
1. The thing we need most and the hardest thing to ask for is donations. Funding seems to be the most difficult part of starting a nonprofit. Donate
2. Share and Promote. Spread the word on social media and elsewhere. The more people know how bad things still are in developing countries, the more they will help. It doesn’t even need to be this organization you help. Just do something! Or do more! No one deserves to live how these people have to. Some starve to death or die from dirty water. Some get no education. Spread the word. Let’s do something!!
3. Volunteer. This isn’t for everyone, but I encourage you to go on a mission trip, to serve with Extraordinary Extras or in any developing country to experience what it is like and see how amazing and grateful the people are. It is expensive to travel so I encourage you to make it worth your while and make the biggest impact by taking as long of a trip as possible.
4. Fundraise – host creative and fun fundraisers to support our mission. Bake sale, raffle, GoFundMe, etc.
5. Shop online on iGive– almost every online store you could imagine will donate a few percent to Extraordinary Extras if you are signed up on iGive. All you do is download a computer plugin or iPad app, and a button will pop up any time a store you are looking at will donate if you purchase something. It costs you nothing! Buy what you would normally buy.
6. Get a shirt – we will have shirts on the website in a couple weeks. It is a great way to support and spread the word.
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