Thursday, June 21, 2012

Namaste, Room to Read!

Today I volunteered in my daughter’s kindergarten class…during the three hours we were there she participated in reading, played educational games, practiced math, spent time outside, socialized, was aided in problem solving, and spoke in both her native English and in her new language of Spanish.

My kids, like their parents, are blessed to live in a place that not only values education, but values education for all kids – boys AND GIRLS!

On June 16, 2012, my son, daughter, and I attended ‘Namaste India’.  ‘Namaste India’ was a global fundraising initiative by and for Room to Read.  The goal was to raise enough money to fund at least 150 young girls in the Room to Read Girls’ Education Program; by early estimates they have exceeded their goal - an awesome outcome regardless and especially considering this was the first time for the event!

Namaste India Global Yoga Day included, across 5 continents, 108 participating yoga studios, individual teachers, and yogis who pulled up a mat in honour of the initiative!  Here, in Calgary, Cori Everett, of Soul Health, graciously and generously donated a yoga class to which everyone - men, women, and children, the practiced and the not so practiced - were welcomed. 

My sister, Lisa Amonson, is Calgary Chapter Leader for Room to Read and, while we were wrapping up our yoga session, she spoke to us, and in particular to the many kids present, about what it means to walk into a library and HAVE BOOKS, what it means to know that you may attend school each day regardless of your genes, and also how it feels to help those who are in much different and harder circumstances than we are.  It was very moving and I will take a brief moment now to say that I think my sister is awesome and I applaud her generous spirit, her intelligent mind, and her willingness to go far beyond what most of us do in the name of another...Lisa inspires me and my family in countless ways.

Calgary Chapter raised, at last count, $1,285!!  WOW!  It is so inspiring when people can come together to consciously change another’s life.  It is also very rewarding to give to a charity that has meaningful accolades, beyond the idealism of what they are trying to do…

Room to Read has, in Africa and Asia:

·      Provided access to education for more than 6 million children since 2000
·      Established 1,592 schools and 13,170 libraries
·      Published 700+ books in 27 local languages (representing 7.2 million books!)
·      Distributed more than 10 million books including original Room to Read titles, donated English and local-language books
·      Supported 13,160 girls through the Girls’ Education Program


·      Room to Read was recognized in Barron’s magazine “25 Best Givers” list (2009 and 2010) and the Global Journal’s “Top 100 NGOs in the World (2012)
·      They were awarded Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for sound fiscal management five years in a row – a recognition that only 6% of their rated charities can claim!
·      And more….!

On a Room to Read ‘Quick Fact Sheet’, they say:

“ Room to Read focuses on girls transitioning to secondary school because that is where the biggest – and most permanent – gaps in gender equality in education take place.  We do this primarily through supporting girls to attend school, providing female mentoring, and creating more girl-friendly school environments.  We have recently added more emphasis on teaching life skills to girls so they will finish school ready to make informed life decisions.”

I know this post has absolutely nothing to do with photography (outside of my pictures from the event), but: it was written by a gal who has had all the chances in the world; someone who has happily travelled to a great many places on the planet; an individual who gets to follow her dreams BECAUSE of an upbringing that endowed her with education, support, and encouragement; and finally, by a person who wants our world to be more understanding, with greater equality, and in which the girls of Asia and Africa are able to provide their intelligence and skills to their own families first, then their communities, and ultimately to our world. 

I am of the absolute belief that educating the world’s children and, in particular, giving an extra hand to girls is critical to our future.  I encourage you to look into Room to Read and hopefully you too will consider it a charity worthy of your hard earned dollars.

Room to Read links:

To find out more, please email:

Soul Health Yoga Studio - Cori Everett:
* Cori is in the midst of a website rehaul (and any small business owner knows that website updates     are tough and time consuming!); please know that she is ‘one of the good guys’…a terrific yoga instructor and a wonderful human being!

Life – and education – are beautiful!


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