In the world of blogging, it’s not uncommon to develop meaningful friendships with people whose face you’ve never seen and voice you’ve never heard.
I met Chris Bradshaw, founder of African Library Project, when I wrote a post about ALP for my blog, What Gives 365, and donated $100 to her amazing endeavor.
Over the next two years, we wrote each other occasional long emails, she’d leave great comments on my blog, and I got to feel like we were good old friends. So when Chris wrote and told me she would be visiting Atlanta for a family wedding and a visit to one of her favorite schools, River Trail Middle School in nearby Johns Creek, I was ecstatic for the chance to meet her in person.
And boy howdy, Chris Bradshaw – and River Trail — did not disappoint! This school has funded more African Libraries than any other middle school in the USA. The kids, from a suburb of north Atlanta, walking through the halls were like a beautiful rainbow river of Asian, Indian, African-American, Hispanic, and White kids – smart, accomplished, adorable, and full of life & enthusiasm.
Chris gave a talk in the River Trail school library and in her groovy African fabric dress, she introduced the students to what these libraries mean to African children halfway around the world. She showed them photos from Ghana, Lesotho, Botswana and made that world come alive –through photos, artifacts, words, and the contrasts between these two worlds she brings together. And she told them what their school’s incredible generosity had accomplished: creating 27 African libraries for children who would otherwise have not a single book to read.
The River Trail library we were sitting in has 20,000 books. The African libraries these children were donating books to and raising money to support would have @ 1,000 books. But those books will lead to literacy and a love of reading…and a brighter future.
The River Trail kids (and amazing teachers) were enthralled – and so proud of their school. Chris’s family members, who were in rapt attendance before the wedding, were delighted to be there to witness their sister’s impact. And I was just happy to be able to finally meet one of my own true philanthropic heroes …and put a face to that name!