How do you graduate from high school or trade school?
First, you have to have the opportunity to attend Primary and Secondary school.
This January we were privileged to receive several donations with which we have been able to support our friends in the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization (KCDO). Our first priority was to support students who needed to pay school fees so as to be able to attend the spring 2022 session of school. Each student requires $250 to attend school for one year. This fee pays for tuition and food. Additionally, students must pay for books and uniforms. Typically they walk long distances to school, often without shoes. Willy Bukenya, Director of KCDO, is so proud of his students that he requested we post some pictures.
We feel blessed to be able to help these children, and others, providing them and their families with the opportunity to improve their lives. If you want to help these Ugandan children continue their education, please connect with us. We will gladly assist you in helping fund the education of these intellectually curious young people.
This summer, despite Covid quarantines and many closed borders, we still found opportunities to share books and supplies with our neighbors, both near and far. All our activities are ongoing, however current initiatives are in bold.
We were very grateful when author Reshma Sapre reached out to us and donated 82 cases of brand-new beautiful books based upon Indian myths and tales.
Here are two: In the Indian Night Sky and The Traveler, the Tiger and the Jackal. The illustrations are exquisite and the tales have universal appeal. New books are helpful as some of our recipients will only accept new books as part of their donation initiative.
After being named as official Kindess Crusaders, We received several cases of Kindness in the Neighborhood by Wendy Littlefield.
We brought cases of Reshma’s books to the Pequot Library Teacher’s Tent. This tent is open to teachers of the Bridgeport Public school system and provides teachers with the opportunity, each summer, to choose new books for their classroom.
We then traveled throughout Southern Vermont, bringing cases of both Reshma’s and Wendy’s books to medical centers that partner with Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read is a literacy initiative which partners with doctors to provide free books to children who lack access to books. As part of the medical visit, doctors will help parents understand the importance of reading to their child. Children and their parents can then choose a book from the Reach Out and Read supply. We will continue to provide Reach Out and Read with new books, when requested.
We built more BridgePi digital libraries, this time our BridgePi libraries can be powered either with electricity, or be solar powered. As you can see below, each BridgePi is connected to a battery pack that is wired to a solar panel, providing 6-8 hours of constant usage. WiFi enabled devices can download materials from up to 50 feet away. These devices have been essential during Covid as the schools in Uganda remain closed. Due to school closure, the Ugandan Ministry of Education provided digital editions of all school materials from Kindergarten through Grade 12.
We were able to add the Ugandan educational materials to the BridgePi chip, greatly enhancing the usefulness of the digital library. We sent 3 solar powered BridgePi digital libraries, each containing over 1,000 books, to Kyamaganda Development Organization (KCDO), Lwengo District, Uganda.
We received a grant of $1,000 that paid for shipping our devices, and allowed us to fund a high-quality projector, screen and blackout curtains for the KCDO library in Lwengo District, Uganda. We are now working to source and add O-level and A-level practice exams to the chip.
KCDO was able to attract several summer interns, some in the US and some in Europe. We were able to work with them via WhatsApp, sharing some fundraising and donation ideas. KCDO received monetary donations from some interns. Sydney, from California, received hundreds of donated cloth masks which she shipped to us. We wrapped our BridgePi devices in these masks and shipped them to KCDO.
Throughout the summer, we continued to organize our garage, pack and label books, and clothing. We also traveled to various schools to pick up additional books and science lab supplies. As soon as the borders open, we are ready to once again ship to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda!
With help from CT lawyer, Kelsie, we were able to assist KCDO with a legal agreement that transferred a 2-acre parcel of land from the Ugandan government to KCDO, for the purpose of building a medical center, library and playground complex. Additional funds contributed by JF and Zoë will allow KCDO to grade and fence the property, preparing it for construction (more funds still needed for the next phase!)
Together, we and KCDO, are working with Operational International and Project C.U.R.E to acquire needed medical supplies.
We are most grateful to Bob for funding food and school fees of the 35 KCDO orphans whom we have been supporting for the past few years. The funding provides education from September 2021-December 2022. We are working with Willy on a “learning partner” system that will pair each KCDO child with a US student, to encourage friendship and success.
John, from Von Steuben high school in Chicago, sent us 100 beautifully written and illustrated books from his French 2 students, representing their final projects. We are looking for French-speaking children who will enjoy these books.
We are excited to learn that Mark and Sheku Mansaray will be meeting with MIT students to discuss 3D printing of protheses for amputees residing in Sierra Leone. This is part of the learning center project Mark and Sheku initiated last year, and to which we were able to contribute. Being able to create protheses on location in Sierra Leone would be invaluable to the many victims of the Civil War. We hope to be able to help with this initiative.
And our last summer endeavor that we continue to work on: funding a cow for the KCDO orphans, so they can have milk. We’re almost there! Maybe we can send a cow by Christmas!
Contact us if you are interesting in assisting us as we move into fall. We hope to hear from you!
When I joined the Wonderland BookSavers team in 2017, I was the only member who didn’t live in Connecticut, and we immediately knew that one of the best ways I could support our efforts would be to expand our reach for acquiring books. One of the first schools in Brooklyn that I called was Berkeley Carroll, and from the very beginning the librarians there have been eager to help our cause! Berkeley Carroll is a K-12 school with a big heart and a lot of libraries (!) and Ms. Kris Hartley-Maneri, Ms. Kendra Barbary, Ms. Briar Sauro, Ms. Mimi Stauber, and Ms. Anna Murphy are the most wonderful librarian-heroes that Wonderland BookSavers could ever ask for!
Every year, these amazing librarians cull through their incredible collections and designate any surplus or remaindered books for Wonderland BookSavers and then carefully pack them into heavy-duty book boxes. Because there are four libraries in the three different buildings, this usually means my sister and I do about 4 huge pick-ups every year!
Since it’s Brooklyn and there are a lot of stairs and usually only one small service elevator in each building, the equally wonderful Mr. Hicham and his maintenance staff, help bring the books out to the street and then we load as many into our car at a time as we can! This takes a lot of coordinating and a lot of time and we are so grateful to everyone at Berkeley Carroll for making this happen!
So far, books from Berkeley Carroll have gone to schools and community centers in need right here in NYC and Connecticut, as well as the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Reservations in South Dakota, and, with the help of the US-Africa Children’s Fellowship, all the way to Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Somalia. Wonderland BookSavers is a community that can only operate with a lot of helping hands along the way, and we are so lucky to have the amazing and generous staff of the Berkeley Carroll School on our team.
My grandmother has a sign in her kitchen with a quote that’s attributed to Gandhi that says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I recently read that this famous quote is actually a paraphrase and what Gandhi actually said was, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.”
What I like about this original quote is the greater emphasis on how each individual change can in fact effect a world of individual changes and that is exactly what is so amazing about Wonderland BookSavers. We’re all just doing one small part but together we can be a world of change.
Thank you Ms. Kris, Ms. Kendra, Ms. Briar, Ms. Mimi, Ms. Anna and all the Berkeley Carroll staff for working so hard to be a world of change with us!
We are happy to report that the books we packed (above) with Mark have made it all the way from Brooklyn, NY to Sierra Leone. Mark received this beautiful letter from Sheku, the founder of Hands on Leone. We are grateful to have been able to contribute to this meaningful project.
Thank you for making this wonderful project happen in my home country Sierra Leone. As a kid, I dreamed of building a educational center for my fellow disables people. When you are disable in Sierra Leone, you are considered useless and you are not important in the society. I felt this pain when I lost both my hands in the civil war.
After losing my hands at the age of 12, I did not have anyone to pay for my school fee. One day I was setting with my young brother Saio at the Aberdeen refugee camp for amputees, an American Peace Corp came to help amputees kids to go to school and I was one of the kids. I was registered to start school on September 2000 right after the war. After registration, I started school September 6, 2000. Upon my arrival at the Aberdeen school, I was told by the teachers and principal of the school to go home because the is not meant for people like me. I returned at the camp crying and I thought my world had ended. I did not have no mother or father to take care of me. The rebels killed both my parents in the war. I am the older one among my siblings.
Mr. Gary the American Peace Corp who paid for my school fee, came to see if all the kids he paid school fee for attending school. He came and found me at the same spot where I was setting when he was visiting the camp. I told him my story. After that, he found someone at the camp to tutor me. I attended tutoring class every day until I got the chance to come America. When I arrived here, I found that people with disabilities were well respected. From that moment on, I told myself after I finished school and get a good job and I will start a organization to help build a educational center for my fellow amputees. Also, in the center we will have medical center to help them with their prosthesis legs and hands.
I want to say thank you to you and your team for making my dreams come true. I look forward to work with you and your team to make this dream true. Thank you,
We are thrilled to report that despite schools being closed and our community being on Covid lockdown, Amelia and Mason have been diligently gathering and donating toys, books, water bottles and school supplies throughout the winter.
Each time we return home we discover new treasures waiting on the doorstep or front porch!
We are so grateful to both Amelia and Mason (and mom Joy!) for their generosity and commitment to helping children around the world. We know that these gifts will be truly appreciated by the children who will receive them. Thank you so much to Amelia, Mason, and the many many local children who have contributed to our efforts.
During this season of reflecting on our blessings, we can’t help but think about our friends at the Pawling Library in Pawling, NY. The Friends of Pawling Library have been a true and constant blessing to the work of Wonderland BookSavers, and particularly Library Trustee Karen Franco and her husband Juan Franco, who have been generously and consistently donating and delivering hundreds of boxes of books every year to Wonderland since 2018.
A few years ago, I contacted Pawling Library about their annual book sale, hoping they would consider donating any remaindered books from their sale to WBS. The Friends of Pawling Library were not only willing to donate their leftover books, but Ms. Franco suggested continuing their support throughout the year! The Francos deliver boxes of beautiful childrens’ and young adults’ books into my family’s garage, even when we’re not there! We come home and boxes of books have miraculously appeared to be sorted and distributed around the world, to children in need.
Books from The Pawling Library have thus far been delivered to Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Kenya in Africa, as well as the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Reservations in South Dakota. Last year, when the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization in Uganda requested Bibles for their staff members that go out to the different villages they serve, the Francos came to the rescue, somehow procuring 45 used and remaindered bibles nearly overnight!
Several months later, this message came from Willy Bukenya who leads that organization: “With smiling heart and happy face, I am happy to inform you that your donated 52 boxes of books, learning materials and sports and games equipment have arrived today in Uganda and at Kyamaganda Community Development Organization. My team was happy too with the Bibles which will strengthen the spiritual nature of our project staff!”
In Mr. Bukenya’s perfect words, with smiling hearts and happy faces, we deeply thank The Friends of the Pawling Library for their ceaseless support and generosity in helping us bring books to children and communities in need. Their tireless help and support has been a great blessing to this organization, and we hope to continue our partnership for years to come.
Thank you Pawling Library! We Love you! PS Thank you for writing my name on every box, here you can see the very boxes you donated, in Uganda, with Sebastian written across the top!
Our reach across the divide from one world to another continues to grow. Today our T-shirt donations, in coordination with US-Africa Children’s Fellowship, reached the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization in Uganda.
As Mark (usacf.net) explained, “Tough Mudder is a for profit organization that runs sports competitions. Basically they set up huge obstacles courses that run for miles. Some of their events run for 24 hours. Contestants run up and down hills, climb over rope walls, splash through mud and crawl on their bellies. They run events across the United States and in England. Up to 400,000 people compete every year. They print about 450,000 T-shirts a year to make sure they have enough. Because I know one of the staff members of Tough Mudder, USACF gets all the extras. We have shipped full 40-foot containers with just their T-shirts in them. 50,000 T-shirts went to refugees in Somalia and 50,000 T-shirts went to refugees in Jordan.”
The children pictured below are all AIDS/HIV positive and face battles far more extreme than any Tough Mudder competition. We are grateful to play a role in the distribution of these T-shirts to parts of the world that personally know extreme hazards and competition.
In partnership with our friends from US-Africa Children’s Fellowship and United Muslin Relief, we have been able to send several containers of clothing, blankets, backpacks and books to refugees living in Somalia.
We are gratified to learn that books we have donated today, and those we will donate in the future will be used to promote learning in 3 newly established Somalian schools.