|Michele with a friend|
Michele Torrey and I share a special bond: we both had the same fourth grade teacher, Mrs. B. (We won’t mention that Michele had Mrs. B several years after I did.) We get quite a kick out of the fact that we both turned out to be writers; Mrs. B does, too.
I am a huge fan of Michele’s writing and I am also a huge fan of her heart-project: Orphans Africa. This non-profit organization grew out of a trip to Tanzania “simply” to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, but, once there, Michele found much bigger mountains to climb. AIDS and malaria has left over 2 million orphans in Tanzania, many of them being raised by grandmothers who do not have access so services that men do. In one of the poorest countries in the world, over one half of the population is under age 18.
Instead of saying, "Oh, how awful," Michele, her husband Carl Gann, and Elizabeth De Guzman, rolled up their sleeves. They saw two immediate needs to be addressed: education for the orphans, and empowerment for the widows.
Here is one secondary school prior to Orphans Africa’s involvement:
Here is the school after OA joined forces with the village:
In terms of empowering widows, OA has provided microloan funds to enable the widows (widows are often required to turn over their home and belongings to their husband’s family) to start small “pharmacies,” small basket weaving “businesses,” and even piggeries, to grow meat for the family and to sell.
The reason I am sharing this with you in a spot usually reserved for From the Office of the Future of Reading is that, in December, I made a gift in honor of all of this school year's guest teacher/librarian bloggers, which enabled OA to buy much-needed library books. So just by being a guest blogger, you are helping to connect kids and books – in Africa!
If you are moved by Michele’s efforts through Orphans Africa, (and how could you not be if you watch this video) and you live in the Puget Sound region, consider supporting the annual fundraiser auction, coming right up on March 8, 2014. Don’t live in the northwest? No worries! You can bid for some items on-line!
Or you can simply donate here.