About 13 years ago my friend Jeff and I were having lunch in the elementary school staff room where I taught 6th grade. To lighten the load and turn the talk away from our troubles Jeff and I began to discuss the books we were reading. He steered me to"Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder. It is an amazing book about the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in Haiti. Fast forward to 2011 and a New Years gift of a books from my husband. As I scanned the non fiction section of our local bookstore I reached for another book by Kidder, "Strength in What Remains." The story of Burundi native Deogratias Niyizonkiza. This book has changed my life. About three months after finishing it I looked on the internet to see what Deo's "village" was doing. The rest is history. After seeing the ridiculous picture of 15 books for 300 children, I began to see what I could do. What we could do.
As you read this I am packing my bags full of books and preparing to fly to Kigutu, Burundi. I leave July 22 and will spend about 10 days in the village.
A strange series of events, set off during one lunch time conversation. One book, leading to another.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your support and hard work. From the first moment I began calling on friends to help the children of Kigutu I have found a wealth of giving hearts. From shoe boxes full of pencils and calculators, to notes of encouragement, to donations of cash from complete strangers, every step on the way has led to this moment. As I climb out of the plane and walk across the tarmac to present my visa and passport in Burundi, you stand with me.
Please visit our website in August to see pictures and stories from the trip. With the Warmest Regards, I remain,
Katherine Leppek is a retired elementary school teacher from Medford, Oregon. She says, "I started this project because I am passionate about literacy and the right of every child to have access to books."