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To Africa we go!

April 8, 2010


Jill and Attie at the well in Zambia dedicated to the memory of my father-in-law Paul -- who passed away not long after visiting that amazing country..


The African leg of my reading adventure has arrived.

One of the best things about my Around the World in 80 Books challenge is that I am able to experience parts of the world that I may never see. And another wonderful thing is that the challenge has forced me to research more and delve deeper into the histories of these countries — I’m learning a lot. As I started to really plan out the books I would read for Africa, it dawned on me that I would be missing a great opportunity if I didn’t try to use this literary quest and this blog to discuss issues that are near and dear to my heart and those I care about the most in my life.

Africa is a large continent with many countries — each of them unique and diverse. However, my family has a special connection to four African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia. Their experiences working and living in these countries have profoundly affected me and changed the way I look at Africa.

Last summer, my mother-in-law spent time in an Ethiopia orphanage — taking care of the children and prepping them for adoption. Before that, she traveled to Zambia, with my sister-in-law for one trip and my father-in-law for another: Both trips designed to build wells for villages there. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law spent time in Ghana last summer. And my aunt Claudia is personally committed to raising awareness about clean water after meeting the first lady of Uganda and hearing about their plight for drinkable water.

During the entire African leg, I am committed to putting some money where my books are (so to speak). For every book from Africa I read, I plan to give money to the various charities that help African countries battle a laundry list of conflict: Dirty drinking water, hunger, AIDS/HIV, children soldiers, malaria, genocide, child trafficking.

Elliott and I are participating in Walk for Water next weekend and I’ll bring you information about World Malaria Day later this month.

I would love for my blog readers to pledge to join me in this act of giving! This is still in its infant stages, so we can adjust and adapt as we go along. But here is what I’m asking:

1. Read a book from Africa! Choose one that talks about an issue close to your heart or read something fun. But read along with us and be sure to tell us what you’re reading and what you learned/thought of the book when you’re done.

2. Give to a charity that deals directly with aid to Africa. Here are the ones I will be using:

– World Vision: (This is a trusted organization. The aid money goes directly to the people/children who need it and not to corrupt politicians. World Vision workers are deeply rooted in African communities — they are not “drive-by aid.”)

– Unicef: (This organization deals directly with children in countries that are broken because of war, famine and poverty. They are dedicated to helping children survive by providing them with basic needs: Food, water, shelter.)

– Red Cross/Red Crescent: (“The Federation’s vision: We strive, through voluntary action, for a world of empowered communities, better able to address human suffering and crises with hope, respect for dignity and a concern for equity.”)

– ONE: (“ONE is a grassroots campaign and advocacy organization backed by more than 2 million people who are committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.” This is the organization that Bono cofounded — so…you know…if you’re inspired by Bono’s coolness…)

It is my hope that by reading through Africa, I can also help inspire people to give to Africa. Will you join me?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. JoV permalink
    April 8, 2010 3:07 pm

    At some point in the very near future I would be reading a book from Morocco and a book titled “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese on Ethopia.

    Yes, count me in.

    You have such well travelled in-laws. I think it’s wonderful you are giving to Africa while you read.

    • April 8, 2010 5:30 pm

      I’m going to read “Cutting for Stone” for Ethiopia too! 🙂 My mother-in-law highly recommended it. Yay!

      And I picked up Morocco today at the bookstore. Lots of cool books coming soon.

      Keep us posted when you finish your own Africa books.

  2. Jill Sherman permalink
    April 8, 2010 10:01 pm

    I am deeply moved and touched by this, Shelbi. Thank you for making a difference in many lives, especially mine. Love you

  3. McFaul permalink
    April 9, 2010 1:13 pm


    I am really glad that I get to work with you!!!

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