I hope you’re getting ready, as I am, to put on your gratitude pants (with handy elastic waist for post-prandial expansion from the Thanksgiving feast). I truly hope you and yours have much to be thankful for and are able to share the good fortune you enjoy with others who may not be as lucky.
There are so many arenas where I recognize I am so outrageously fortunate–one of them being the access to education I had when I was young. Not everyone, of course, has that, and access to education can be quite discriminatory, not only divisive along financial lines, but with heinous gender inequality as well. An educated girl is simply not as highly prized as an educated boy in many parts of the world, and 42% of girls in developing nations are not enrolled in school. Room to Read is one of many organizations trying to do something about that. Believing that world change starts with education, they work with local communities and educators in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa, and Zambia (with plans to move into other literacy-challenged regions) to bring hope of an education to all children, develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school. Through initiatives like “Reading Room” (building and stocking libraries–more than 10,000 so far), Local Language Publishing (giving kids access to materials in their native language), School Room (building primary and secondary school classrooms), and Girls’ Education, Room to Read is spreading the word–literally.
They have a strong devotion to supporting the communities where they work, and employing local teachers and builders/tradespeople, so they don’t have overseas volunteer opportunities–but go to the site, spin around a bit, and support the work of bringing access to education to all.