Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Books will fly through the air for children
(Tag, you're it!)

In honor of all those folks who've tagged me with memes (or are memes now all called "hooplas"?) this year and had to listen to me grumble, I've got a twist on the theme of meme.

I read Doris Lessing's Nobel speech through TIV's blog -- the speech where Ms. Lessing discussed the hunger for books in Africa -- and it left me feeling weak.

Rather than get trapped by inertia, or by the noise the speech kicked off -- some bloggers and commentators thought it racist and naive -- or by the awful game of "but if I help those and not the others, what sort of person am I?," I decided to find one simple way to get books to more people who want books.

Here's what I found.

There is a reputable (so far as I can tell) charity that gathers donated books and ships them to schools and communities in Africa.

I've set up this easy-to-use donation site, and hope all you literate, lovely, and compassionate blog wanderers -- especially those who play tag with memes and hooplas -- will consider donating a small amount and leaving a haiku.

Is it the best thing we can do?
Probably not.
But a good thing done now beats wrangling over what the best thing might be.
"If not now...when?"

And, in the spirit of memes past, I double-dog-dare everyone reading this to put a link to the donation site on their blog, and spread the book love.

"Books will fly through the air for children."
Happy New Year, all y'all!


R.L. Bourges said...

lori: I'm one of those totally abject people who have to go read all the fine print on the FirstGiving website, then google around some more before signing even a petition to abolish the death penalty. I love the idea though, so as soon as I run my covert (ha!) investigation and as soon as mz smilah puts me through the html 101's "adding another widget to your blog", we'll send those books flying all over the place!
best to you - and get this word verif - it's longer than a haiku:


Lori Witzel said...

Lee, do let me know if you find anything worrisome. I did my own due diligence, but I appreciate your checking.

Here's the Firstgiving/Justgiving's "About Us" -- they're based in the UK:

I found them because a number of individuals in the US pastoral community have been using their tools to enable giving.

They do take some of the donation (in the UK, they take about 5%) in exchange for hosting, seamless enablement, and automatic payment processing.

So, while each charity would do better if we donated directly, it would be difficult to speed the donation process and "meme/hoopla" the process without these folks and their ever-so-easy widgets and interfaces.

Anyhow, keep me posted if you discover anything that doesn't seem right.

Smiler said...

Lori: it's a great idea, I'm on board for using memes to serve a good cause. Of course I'll stress on my blog that people can give anything they can, because something is better than nothing. I'll start spreading the good meme no later than today.

My donation is going to be from both Lee and I, because I know for a fact they don't have much to spare.

Just one small but important detail: I've just seen they only take credit cards and no Paypal. I'm one of those people who doesn't actually have a credit card (yep, it's a pain in the neck). What can you suggest?

R.L. Bourges said...

will do.

Lori Witzel said...

Thanks so very much, Smiler and Lee! Yes, anything -- even a little -- will help, I'm sure. No worries for those who can't or don't want to join in...but if you can and want to, please do.

For those among us who want to avoid using credit cards or don't have credit cards, you can print a form from the Books for Africa site and mail a check or money order.

In keeping with the Theme of Meme, if y'all don't use Firstgiving, leave a haiku in comments here if possible...I'll round up all the haikus and post at a later date, so we can send our poems as well as our support.


x said...

Books for Africa
Shining faces greeting
Magic words to read.

Smiler said...

The gift of reading
For our sisters and brothers
Feeds the mind and soul

Haikus I can give you by the dozen :-)

I'll mention the alternative methods of payment on my post too.

Smiler said...

ok, so it won't get posted tonight maybe, I was held up by an overwhelming need to have a long nap. Not very considerate on my part for the Africans, but having not taken the time to read Doris Lessing's speech, I wanted to do so first and now want to write my own little entry about why I think it's important to spread the good deed around.

I should know better by now than to give myself any kind of deadline — especially since I feel so badly when I can't meet it for one reason or another...

hakol besseder
or as the Greeks say: siga siga: slowly slowy [we'll all get there in our own time]

Lori Witzel said...

Miz Smiler, no worries -- I've been wrassling with my schoolwork and getting ready for another crazy work-week, so I know about the need for a nap.


The love will keep for another day or three...

Dana S. Whitney said...

Curiosity, expanded knowledge, stimulation of thinking, new horizons... all possible because of books.
Not a haiku, but hearfelt.
Will post the link!

R.L. Bourges said...

Due diligence hasn't revealed anything stinky so far. I must explain that over here in France, we are living through the aftermath of a humanitarian impulse gone massively awry. Some very fine people - a policeman, a Red Cross volunteer, those kinds of people, not the scummy awful kind, decided they wanted to do something for the orphans of Darfur. So they flew into Tchad and set up a sort of rescue operation. What happened? well local people started bringing them children to save - their own children, it turned out - claiming that the children fit the description: homeless, dispossessed etc. From the Tchadian perspective, getting one of their children out of a life of grinding poverty probably justified the scam. Anyway, when the lid blew off the phony certificates of orphanhood, the French saviors were arrested and condemned to nine years forced laboror. This of course, led to bartering with the French government to repatriate the French citizens. Mucho euro must have exchanged hands for the French are now back on European soil to serve their sentence - which will likely end in a few months when the furore has died down. How the phony orphans have experienced this whole thing doesn't seem to figure in anyone's thinking.
I totally support the initiative of getting books to children anywhere. In our small and very economically depressed little town, there are kids who hang outside the public library at night. They throw rocks in the windows, root out the flowers and take letters off the signage as trophies.
I'm grateful that Smiler is pulling our weight on the FirstGiving initiative you've put out there, Lori. Meanwhile, Robert and I do what we can with the hometown rock throwers. There's some really fine kids among them. Got to stop I'm writing a blog post - sorry about that.

R.L. Bourges said...

OK. Did my bit. It's up at my place under the title "Books Fly". As soon as I master the technology (did I just hear a snork?) I'll put up the wee widget too.

danadocus said...

Hi Lori,

I noticed that your firstgiving page for the Fray Luis school is going to expire on March 29th. I thought should know in case you can renew it. :)

Lori Witzel said...

Dana -- Thanks tons for your haiku and donation, and for the heads-up about the expiration. I will extend it!

BTW, if you have a blog, I'd love to point people to your site as a tiny bow in your direction.