I love to read. I always have. For me, reading has been an adventure and an education, a bridge to what matters, and a steadily reliable escape from what doesn’t. I spent a lot of time in libraries growing up. As a military family, we moved again and again and again. So my first best friend in every new city was actually my library card. Eventually, I’d find a human friend, but I was never able to get one of those just by filling out an application and showing proof of residence. (I tried. It was weird.)
Books got me through my childhood, my teen years, college, and my first real job. They mapped out how to plan a wedding, how to create a business, how to navigate a pregnancy, how to adopt, how to travel. Even how to become a photographer and start a non-profit. I sort of can’t imagine a life without books.
That is why our newest Beautiful Together project really strikes a chord with me. Because we are creating a library and a computer lab for kids in Rwanda who can significantly change their lives through access to books and technology. And hopefully, many of you will help to make this happen. We want to give this library to children who have a whole, big, shiny new life ahead of them. At least they certainly deserve to have that, given how roughly life started out for each and every one of them.
To this end, we are partnering with The Kefa Project. They work with children in Rwanda who have been orphaned, have parents in prison – or are, for a variety of circumstances, living completely on their own. The children they connect with have been living on the streets and not attending school. They are struggling with what it means to live day to day in the circumstances of extreme poverty. The Kefa Project has already worked tirelessly with hundreds of at-risk kids, introducing them to soccer and “whole life” skills and education. And for those boys that are most at risk, they have created The Kefa Academy, a safe place for them to live, play, study, and grow together.
Why do they need a new library and computer center? The majority of kids who are now living safely in the academy have already been out of school for years, which makes it hard for them to catch up with other kids. Every one of them is currently struggling with reading and writing. They have brought on a tutor to help with their education, but there is currently a lack of educational materials available to them.
The entire budget required to create a new library and computer center is $4,300.00. That total amount includes funds for a full library buildout, books, computers, shelving, tables, and seating. Even a couple coats of fresh paint, with inspiring quotes and photographs on the walls. The goal is to create a warm and inviting space for children to gather, explore, and learn.
Space has already been acquired for the new library and computer center:
Now we just need to fill it up!
Last, but certainly not least, the founders of Beautiful Together and The Kefa Project were brought together by Sue Brown, mother to Howell Brown III. Little Howell, affectionately nicknamed HB3, had a major impact on a significant number of people in his far too short of a life. That very much included the founders of these two non-profits. He was smart, funny, adorable, and deeply loved. Sue cared for him his entire life, but most especially his last five years, as difficult as it was on so many levels, as he fought cancer – and she helped him to live his big life.
Sue felt strongly that something good could come from these organizations partnering, and we are grateful for her introduction. We will be naming this new library and computer lab in Rwanda “The HB3 Library”, in honor of Little Howell – and Sue.