(Posted by Better World Books alum, Natasha Harris)
This summer, I was chosen to be part of a Books For Africa/Better World Books delegation which spent over two weeks in the countries of Ethiopia and Tanzania. The trip was incredible in every possible respect. We were able to visit numerous schools, non-profits, and libraries that have been recipients of books sent through Books For Africa.
Our travels brought us in contact with very many fantastic organizations and wonderful people; however, my very favorite experience was at the Mtopepo B Primary School on the island of Zanzibar. On that day, we were honored on stage alongside top USAID officials and Michael Retzer, the US Ambassador to Tanzania, for the direct support we’ve helped provide to Zanzibar’s school system. The ceremony was a lot of fun: our host school had obviously put a lot of effort into planning the event, and it went off without a hitch.
My favorite part of the day actually came after the ceremony was over, when we had the opportunity to walk around and visit different classes. A number of the younger children went directly back to class, but many of about age eight and over were more or less just lounging about in the open courtyard where the ceremony had been held. I went up and joined a group of them, and before I knew it I was overtaken in this massive crowd of beautiful, happy children. The group closed in on me and we were all jumping up and down together, laughing. It was one of those experiences where you can’t even really remember how it began, but you know even at the time that you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.
Part of my love for Better World Books stems from my love of children. I’m glad to work for an organization that helps create and further opportunities for youth around the world. I’ll never meet most of the children we help benefit, but I know they’re out there and I know I’m helping make their lives just that much better. For me, this single moment on this one beautiful day represented a reward much greater than the recognition we received at the ceremony. It was my favorite day in Africa.