A Murray inspiration, a Ugandan dream come true
Nov 11, 2019 04:08PM
By Shaun Delliskave
Trevor, center (blue shirt), read all the books from a Kids Read Little Library, which was inspired by the one in Murray Park. (Photo courtesy Kids Read)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Everybody has a good idea for a charity, but few have the energy to start it. Rare are charities that have successfully taken off, giving way to a board of directors to guide it once established. Even more against the odds is starting another charity from scratch and hoping it too will help others, yet Murrayite Lynda Brown is up to the task.
Brown, the founder of KidsEat! Foundation, a charity created to eliminate childhood food insecurity within the Salt Lake Valley, has seen the organization grow from a couple of volunteers and a food closet to a full-blown organization with corporate support.
That charity came to fruition after Brown caught two children stealing food from the Boys & Girls Club cupboards. Discovering that children were going hungry on weekends when school was not in session, Brown prepared backpacks to help their plight. Soon the calls came to Brown that there were more and more hungry children.
In the course of a few years, Brown guided the charity to reach out to 8,000 children. The charity has grown into a complex entity, with demand reaching from beyond Salt Lake Valley’s borders. USANA corporation has teamed up with the program to provide volunteers, organizational help and dedicated warehouse space for food storage.
Still, all food comes from donations, and Brown remains committed to the organization as a senior advisor. She still works on behalf of the organization as a goodwill ambassador, helping to solicit aid and keeping the organization true to its mission.
While building KidsEat! from the ground up, she was introduced to Sam Bagenda, who was aspiring to help people in his native Uganda. Bagenda, who works as an acrobat performer and trainer, let Brown know about the lack of books, and hence a literacy problem that exists in the African country.
While pondering Bagenda’s plight and strolling through Murray Park, she came upon the little library that sits outside the Park’s arboretum, and an idea was born. The little library resembles a giant birdhouse, except books are housed in it; people can take a book from it and share a book in return.
Brown and Bagenda brainstormed on the idea and pondered the challenges it presented. While many Americans have readily available books to stock a little library, the cost of shipping books to Africa is prohibitive. They decided the best approach was to raise money in America to build small libraries and to buy books from local Ugandan publishers. Brown would not only be able to raise support in America but assuage donors that this was indeed a legitimate charity.
The first KidsRead “Little Library” premiered this year on Aug. 4, with the sole purpose of providing books to the under-served children in Kabalagala, Uganda. The aim is to take a book, read it, and return it for another book. There are 150 books or more in each library. They range from picture books for the very young to storybooks and some remedial tutorials and workbooks for adults.
“A little boy named Trevor, who in the first month since we opened the first library, has read all 150 books! He is our first ‘Reader Leader,’ and we will be getting him a T-shirt and will have him help be an ambassador to the premier of other libraries around the area of Kampala (Uganda’s capital city),” Brown said.
For five dollars, Brown’s organization can buy six books, while $150 purchases a new library. Ultimately, $250 will provide a library and 150 books to a new area.
“We hope Trevor can also be a group leader for future book clubs where the children will, for the first time, get to sit together and discuss the books they have read and exchange them,” Brown said.
The Kids Read project is in high demand and new little library locations have opened in Kibuli and Katwe, Uganda. More information can be found online at kidsreaduganda.org