The Power of Books

Yesterday, I visited The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia warehouse in San Leandro. This picture was taken by the Books for Asia staff in the 1950's in Pakistan.

Knowledge and channels to see the world were taken for granted by so many people in the developed countries, while millions of people in the third world countries or rural areas may never have access to these during their oftentimes short and unnoticed lives.

The Books for Asia program sent over 1 million books to 18 countries in Asia in 2008, but how do you really measure the impacts of these books? I know the program has the expertise in getting the right book to the right place, but it is just so hard to say how has the reading experience changed the readers and their communities.

I don't have the answer, but I just cannot imagine a world without books. Internet is all so amazing. It brought me to you right now. However, for people who live in areas with barely any electricity, the power of books can be life changing.

Growing up in Asia, English books were expensive and rare back then. I have a book on my shelf that has never been read and was barely even touched, wrapped in a clear wrapping paper, but it means so much to me.

It is a hardcover, colorful Winnie the Pooh English story book. I saved my pocket money that was enough to pay for a 6-person meal to buy it. As a little girl, it was like a dream come true. A.A. Milne wrote the story for his son Christopher. I wanted to read all the pooh bear stories in its native language, so I had to look up countless English vocabulary in the dictionary. It was not easy and took me a long time to finish one small book. At the end of the day, aside from enjoying the world of this lovely bear, I also learned to be patient and disciplined.

More information about Books for Asia, here, you can click into all of its work in 18 countries.

Various titles donated by the generous publishers, from Dalai Lama to Donald Trump

Group picture with the workers

Me pretending to operate this machine

If you are still reading, please do me a favor and consider making a donation to send these books to those who need them. The cost of shipping and delivering books is about $1 per book. Between now and September 15, 2009, for every dollar you donate, a very generous private donor will donate $2 to the program as well. Thank you for supporting this matching grant challenge.

This is the multimedia page with pictures and a short video, professionally made by the Asia Foundation.

Be inspired!

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