Room to Read
Issue 2, February 2009
Message From Our Team
Dear Friends:

Happy New Year! With your generous support, we are happy to report that Room to Read met its 2008 fundraising goals despite a challenging economy. This allowed us to continue to expand our work in over 2,000 additional communities across the developing world. As a result, over 3 million children now have access to our schools, libraries, and scholarships. However, there's more work to be done and we're already charging ahead to take things to the next level during 2009.

To ensure we continue to grow the organization, while also meeting our bold goals, our Board of Directors and executive staff undertook an extensive process to decide what "the management team of the future" should look like at Room to Read. As a result, both of us are taking on new roles, and we've added some great new talent to the management bench to augment ourselves. This restructuring took effect on January 1, John has taken on the newly created full-time role of Executive Chairman. Erin has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer. In these new roles, both John and Erin will be able to better focus on the key tasks and long-term strategy as we look toward the future.

Click here to read the press releaseabout our new positions and our additional management team hires about which we are very excited. Both of us, and our teams, look forward to continuing our partnership with you on our path to help millions of children to break the cycle of poverty through the power of education. Together, we are creating an amazing legacy -- an educated generation!

Onward and upward!

sig_john                                 sig_erin
John Wood, Founder and Executive Chairman      Erin Ganju, Co-Founder and CEO
In the News

Room to Read Launches Operations in Bangladesh


Room to Read is excited to announce its programmatic launch in Bangladesh. As in many other developing countries, educational access is particularly poor in rural areas of Bangladesh, where schools are few and far between and children are expected to work to contribute to family income. This divide is reflected in the differences in literacy rates between rural and urban communities: the adult literacy rate in rural areas is 52 percent, while in urban areas it is 82 percent. School completion rates and academic achievement remains low; fifty-six percent of children never enroll in secondary school, and nearly nine million children in Bangladesh are illiterate.

To address these issues, the Room to Read Bangladesh office, led by country director Zaki Hasan, marked the inauguration of operations with a special event on January 31, 2009 at the Dhaka Spectra Convention Center. The event attracted more than 120 special guests, including officials from local and regional governments, Dhaka University, the United Nations, and international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The occasion also drew the interest of several members of the media including six local TV stations and two print publications. In conjunction with the inauguration event, the Bangladesh team hosted a workshop to determine how to best tailor the Girls' Education and Reading Room programs to complement educational efforts already underway by the other agencies in the country, and to explore potential opportunities for partnership. Once in place, Room to Read programs will likely be concentrated in rural areas, where 76 percent of Bangladesh's population resides.

>> Read a story about the launch from Bangladesh's Daily Star
>> Learn more about Room to Read Bangladesh

Room to Read Honors South Africa's Writing Competition Winners

On November 1, 2008, five winners of the 2008 Room to Read South Africa Local Language Publishing writing competition were honored at a ceremony at the Johannesburg's Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa. The competition, which was advertised through local libraries, literacy organizations, schools, a national magazine and word of mouth, received an overwhelming response with over 193 manuscript submissions in ten of the eleven official languages in South Africa - many of them indigenous dialects. The independent selection panel, comprised of retired academics and staff from the South African Language Board, took three days to review all the manuscripts and eventually select the winning stories. The chosen five will be added to Room to Read's pool of 2007 titles and distributed to our Reading Rooms in Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape Provinces in January 2009. Room to Read's commitment to publishing in indigenous languages has been recognized in the national catalog of the National Library of South Africa and the National Ministry of Arts and Culture.

Meet the 2008 Room to Read South Africa Local Language Publishing writing competition winners:

Ke Ngwanamme (My Mother's Child) by Ms. Sarah Mohale (Sepedi dialect). The story follows a little boy named Neo who is an only child until his parents announce that they are expecting a little girl. Neo is not happy with the news for fear of losing his parents' attention, but all that changes once the baby arrives.
Awe na Tshibwanana Tshawe (Awe and Her Puppy) by Ms. Tsireledzo Mushoma (Tshivenda dialect). Tsireledzo's story features a little girl named Awe who one day goes out to play with her friends only to come across a lost puppy. Awe bravely rescues the puppy, not realizing that her new friend will later come to her rescue when she gets into trouble.
My Granny is a Dancer but I Just Want to Play by Ms. Kerry Saadien-Raad (English language). This story is about a ten year old girl who narrates the daily activities of her family members. Though the girl is inspired by the work her grandma, grandpa, aunt and uncle do, all she wants to do is play.
Die Storie van Vusi sé Orkes (The Story of Vusi's Orchestra) by Ms. Nini Bennet (Afrikaans language). This story chronicles the inspiring tale of a band of musical boys who want more than anything to break into the world of music and, one day, unexpectedly they get their chance to do so.
My First Day at a Golf Course by Mr. Kaninga Peter Chipeya (English language). Mr. Chipeya's story is a tale of a boy named Muhle who is excited about being home from school for the holidays. His friend, Menzi, suggests that they work as caddies for rich golfers to earn extra pocket money. Though unsure, Muhle is excited because he's never been to a golf course.

>> Learn more about Room to Read's

Local Language Publishing Program

Room to Read's New Facebook Fan Page


Room to Read has a new Facebook fan page, Room to Read: World Change Starts with Educated Children (Official)!  Please support us by becoming a Room to Read "fan" and encourage those in your Facebook network to do the same. As a fan, you'll learn about our latest news and events, plus you'll have access to photos, videos and much more.  Click here to join!


Chapters are comprised of individuals who have made a long-term volunteer commitment to promoting Room to Read within their communities, and we depend on their network to achieve our goals. Learn more about our chapter network on our Chapters page.

>> View a list of upcoming local events

Barclays Capital Demonstrates Corporate Citizenship


Since 2007, Barclays Capital has quickly become one of our largest corporate sponsors and a tremendous help and resource to Room to Read, particularly for our UK office. With an investment focus on libraries and local language publishing titles in Cambodia, Vietnam and South Africa, Barclays Capital has enabled Room to Read to advance toward our goal of establishing over 10,000 libraries throughout the developing world by 2010.

Beyond financial support, Barclays Capital and their employees have offered their expertise, resources and time to volunteer at Room to Read events, and have made key introductions on our behalf to potential supporters and partners.

Kevin Wall, Barclays Capital's Charities Committee Chair says, "Room to Read fits well with Barclays Capital's aims and values. We are proud to support their work with money and with other support. We look forward to seeing the positive effects of our investment in these communities for many years to come. We're also delighted to have opportunities to get involved in other ways. Barclays Capital is committed to encouraging and supporting the charitable activities of its employees who devote their time and resources to helping good causes. This is part of our responsibility as a good corporate citizen, as an employer, and as a firm that believes in initiative and partnership."

>> Visit our Partners page to learn more about our corporate investors

The Republic of Tea Unveils New Line of Children's Teas for Room to Read


The Republic of Tea, the innovative company that sparked a revolution of specialty and premium teas, has chosen Room to Read as its nonprofit partner for their new tea line, Little Citizens' Herb Teas. The teas, launched to the public on January 18, is the first line of naturally caffeine-free, organic Rooibos based, Fair Trade Certified herbal teas for children.

The collection offers three flavors, including: Strawberry Vanilla, Tangerine and Apple Cherry. For every tin of Little Citizens' Herb Teas sold, The Republic of Tea will contribute $1 to Room to Read, in its goal to establish a bi-lingual library for underprivileged children in South Africa, as well as help Room to Read establish libraries in other countries in need. Look out for the teas and complementary accessory line in your local gourmet store or supermarket.

>> Visit for more information or to purchase online

Mack the Yak: How Santa Clara Promoted Literacy


Read Santa Clara, an organization that provides free literacy instruction and support to English-speaking adults in the City of Santa Clara, sent Room to Read an email that got our attention. It started: "Dear John and Room to Read staff - Would you have use for a YAK?"The Yak, named "Mack the Yack," was a 7-ft money-eating yak created by Read Santa Clara that traveled around the community collecting dollars, cents and checks for Room to Read in order to establish a library in Nepal.

Dear John and Room to Read staff - Would you have use for a YAK?

The Yak, named "Mack the Yack," was a 7-ft money-eating yak created by Read Santa Clara that traveled around the community collecting dollars, cents and checks for Room to Read in order to establish a library in Nepal.

So far, Read Santa Clara has donated $6,000 to Room to Read but it is Mack who is making a big impression on the local community through his appearances at the local library, local yard sale, and even working the phones at his desk! Read Santa Clara put together a humorous video showing the star-power of Mack the Yak around town and they are now trying to find a new future home for him - with Room to Read's help!

>> Learn more about how to get involved with Room to Read

Story Time

Vanxay Loves to Read!


The following story, by our Program Officer in Salavan Province, Laos, tells of his visit to the Khanchone Primary School. The school, which serves two local villages and 230 students, was greatly improved and expanded by Room to Read to complement our newly established school library there.

"I am Mr. Sinthavong. During a recent field trip I went to visit the Khanchone Primary School and spoke with many children. I was encouraged to see them enjoying reading books and happy. I met one student, Vanxay, an 11-year-old boy who just loves reading books and studies so hard each day in school. He was born into a poor family but he is very enthusiastic about learning and values his education. If Vanxay has free time on weekends, he encourages his friend to read with him in the school corridor or among the trees in the shade. He told me that on average, he reads 35 books each month and he has to borrow books to read with his family as well. Vanxay said to me, 'I am very happy now that we have many books to read. Before, there were no books at my school and I always asked when my school would get more new books.' I answered him, ‘Room to Read is planning to publish 16 titles of new books and after we print them, we will send copies to your school as soon as possible.'" By the end of 2008, Room to Read provided over 250 new books to Khanchone Primary School, so Vanxay can now read as often as he would like!

>> Learn more about our Reading Room library program

Donate Now

Jump start our programs in Bangladesh! Together we can start making a positive difference in the lives of deserving children, families and communities in Bangladesh.

>> Donate to our programs in Bangladesh