17 Mar 2010

This must be one of the stories from all my trades to date that has touched my heart the most.

My friend Lewis Khoury and I met through Facebook. He's based in Cape Town, so isn't it amazing how technology has helped make this story happen? We probably would not have met if it weren't for Facebook, and on my next trip to Cape Town I'll get to meet him in person for the first time.

Lewis has a passion to make a difference to our youth, and is actively doing something to live his passion. He is the editor and tireless distributor of a book. This book is a very innovative idea, aimed at high school learners to give them career guidance and life skills in a most colourful and useful way. It's sole purpose is to educate, empower and uplift both the learners leaving school and the teachers who shape them. It is called the JumpStart Handbook.

Lewis contacted me and offered me 60 of these books for one Springleap T-shirt, hoping I could find a way to get the books into 60 children's hands. I was eager too, but had no idea how. Little did I know we'd reach even more than 60 children- way more!

Chris Dykes is a dear friend of mine, who happened to help make a bookshelf one day for a childcare centre in an informal settlement near Johannesburg. From this experience was born the Bookshelf Project, where Chris makes bookshelves and then proceeds to full them with books for the children. His vision is to facilitate a love of reading by making books available to children who would otherwise not have access to them. And his passion goes further too- he also empowers them with skills and the confidence to have academic careers: he helps them learn how to study, and to support each other and younger children with their studies.

He has had me in tears of amazement as he tells stories of the impact he is making, like of how he visited a Bookshelf Project and found an older child reading a story to over 20 younger children, or of how a child has for the first time not only passed her school year, but done well thanks to having access to books after school and the study skills support she got from Chris.

Chris and his Bookshelf Project seemed like the perfect match for Lewis's 60 JumpStart Handbooks. All I needed was someone to help out with the donation to make this trade happen.

Chris and Telana with the 60 Jumpstart handbooks

Along came the Angel, who wants to remain anonymous. Angel heard of this possible trade, and a few minutes later made the donation.

So what was to be a simple three-way trade, turned into a four-way trade (Lewis, Chris, Angel and me) and then into a five-way trade when Lewis' Springleap T-shirt was delivered and his sister Tessa claimed it for herself.

Lewis and Tessa

Actually it's turned into a 755-way trade, as the books are impacting an estimate of 750 children. Because of the way Chris has developed and is running his Bookshelf Projects (there are more than one now- we threw a "Talk like a Pirate Party" last year, me mates and I, and raised funds for Pirate Chris, arrrr) he has been able to distribute the 60 JumpStart books among the centres, and they will be touching 750 children's lives!


And to think it all started with one matchstick.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Marc says:

    Technology never ceases to amaze me. The opportunities to network, share ideas and pull people from different backgrounds together gives me a lot of enthusiasm for more of these kind of initiatives.

    Well done!

  2. Lindsay says:

    What a brilliant story T, you and Chris need to keep up the good work. Just the positive story I needed to read today!


- Copyright © one matchstick - - Powered by Blogger - Designed by Johanes Djogan -