The Wonder of Books

Apr 9, 2020

By: Ashley Henderson, Community Outreach and Retail Coordinator for Addis Jemari  

I can’t recall the countless number of times over the years that I’ve piled my girls into the car and headed to our local library just three minutes from our home.  When they were little, they would excitedly run in and immediately begin pulling out book after book… showing the pictures to each over…laughing, giggling, and making a take-home collection on the floor. As they grew older, they would head straight for their favorite author and carefully select the books in the collection they had not yet read.  Now, they go online to request their books and drive to the library to pick them up themselves.  What a treasure it has been having a library so close to us for all these years.  Their love for reading continues to this day, and I contribute a good deal of that to our local library.  I can remember on most visits, after arguing on who got to use the self-check out scanner, we could barely carry all the books they had selected to our car.  The access to books is not something that most of us in the United States consider a gift, but more of a way of life.

Imagine growing up in a country where reading is not a pastime and books are not easily accessible. That is the case for the children and parents we serve in Ethiopia.  Can you imagine?  Late last fall, Addis Jemari sponsored a book drive to collect books of all genres to carry to Ethiopia in hopes of filling a library at our Family Empowerment Center.  Our generous partners at Charlie’s Heart Foundation made this library possible, and it is called Charlie’s Library and Tutoring Center. It’s a library where children and their parents have access to age- appropriate reading materials.  While in Ethiopia this past January, my daughter and I had the privilege of helping organize books and we set-up the library for our FEP families.  We had some of the children help us carry the stacks of books from the office into the library so they would get a sense of contributing to their library.  This task seems so simple, but it was hard for the kids to not stop working to look at books along the way, which is all they wanted to do!  Such temptation!  Some of the sweetest moments I’ll remember from our trip is watching the awe and wonder of these children as they sat on the steps of Charlie’s Library looking at book after book after book.

What a wonderful addition to our Family Empowerment Center that was made possible by Charlie’s Heart Foundation and everyone who so generously donated their gently used books.  Something that we would consider such a small thing will open worlds of opportunities for these children in our Family Empowerment Program.  Through these books, they’ll be able to strengthen their English, explore different lands, and dream about what they will one day become.  Parents now have access to self-help books, educational resources and novels and will be able to lead by example to their children.  Just one more way that Addis Jemari is working to transform lives one person at a time!

Thank you again to Charlie’s Heart Foundation for your generosity. To learn more about Charlie’s Heart Foundation, visit