This is my weekend in Zanzibar and I decided it was time to give away the last of the books I brought – thanks to Karen Burstein’s and the Picard Center. I have not had time to approach more schools so I went out the communities that have been so welcoming to me these last two weeks. I had already decided on my rules.
1. I would only approach adults and ask permission.
2. One book per child
3. Protect everyone’s pride.
a. Give the books a walk away. This is not about me.
b. Tell people I had extra books and could not take them home to the USA.
I packed up my books and went out. I realized my first problem right away. Women who were of age to have children would not or could not talk to me. I had to talk to the men near the children. In one case, he was little more than a boy – probably about 15. I looked at women in the eye, but without a man around, they would do nothing more than smile.
The pattern was always the same. First, suspicion or shock. Second, happiness. Finally, the giggles from the kids. I walked about four miles to hand out the last 30 or so books. I found one school and gave them a package of 10 books. As I walked away, I saw the children starting to enjoy their new books. The men would smile and shake my hand.
After a couple of hours, I had given away all the books but now the new problem. Kids had heard what I was doing, and they came to find me. Fortunately, I still had pencils to give away. These kids smiled and offered handshakes.
At the end of the day, I only wish I had 1000 more books.