Today I´d like to dabble into something hardly anyone knows but something that I feel very strongly about- Book charity.
Just recently, something happened that got me in such a mood.
As none of you know, my daughters and I give secondhand and new books to children around the Christmas holidays. Sometimes we pick a random family from the village we live in or we pack boxes and bring them to children´s hospitals, orphanages, schools or Kindergartens.
I make an announcement in a few village Facebook groups asking for people to dump their unwanted children´s books at my doorstep ( to which many gladly do ) and I take a few days off to sort them out by age groups before making small bundles and driving them to their new homes.
The most crucial part of all this is reassuring the families ( who´ve donated books ) that their hand-me-downs truly reach their destinations. So, every step is documented via pictures and journals. I even invite the families over to see how we prepare the goods ( which they often decline ) and even encourage them to accompany me when I make deliveries. Some families don´t bother with the evidence anymore because I´ve won their trust. Others… Sometimes I don´t know why I even bother anymore.
While quite a few trust me, many families don´t and really want to know where their books go. Not that big of a deal. I´ll give you all the information I have. I create little info folders where every step is documented, even my private costs ( a copy of my driver logbook). I figured these people want to see if I´m just looking for a way to sack the books for myself, which I´m not. All this is 100% non-profitable. I´m actually spending money rather than making any off of this. So, the more information I provide the better. This year, for the very first time, I found out that one particular family didn´t care about the donation process. They only had one worry.
“Which kids are getting my books?”
I admit- This is a question I wasn´t prepared for. Which kids? Well… kids. The small people who look so vibrant and full of energy. The ones who scratch their asses with toys as they put curses on adults ( a little description of my own kids ). I replied with my standard answer: “Kids who need them.”
“That´s not what I asked. I want to know what type of children are receiving my books.”
At this point, I hadn´t the slightest clue what they wanted to hear. Or, my mind simply refused to acknowledge the hidden message behind their words. But don´t worry. I caught up eventually.
“You´re not giving my books to foreigners, are you?”
And there we had it. The old racist topic. In all honesty- I´m not interested in having this discussion with anyone, ever. I´m a foreigner in this country, too. All I want is to give children in need a chance at having great books. Before I acted out of tact I pulled my “be nice” card. “I can assure you, all books will go to children living in this country if that´s what you´re asking.” The power of careful wording.
My reply was enough to pacify them. They graciously handed their used children´s books over and left, but not without telling me they wanted a full report on which `children ` received their used books. I was a little dishearted after having had such an encounter. A case of wine was what I needed to dull the pain in my chest.
My husband and I had a long chat about this afterward. He said I should´ve told them to shove their books up their asses. Trust me, I was close but I couldn´t. I thought misleading them would give me more satisfaction. The truth is- It didn´t. I´m still fuming at the unfairness of the situation. So, people don´t want a foreign kid to have their used books but every other kid in need is allowed? A child is a child. Last I checked, books aren´t racist.
This year I planned to donate two boxes to a Safe House for women and their children who´ve fled their abusive homes. I don´t know if there are foreigners there or not. There probably are. Do I care? Not one bit. To be honest- I don´t always have the pleasure of seeing children unpack the boxes. Most of the time the boxes are taken and brought to an extra room due to security reasons. Which is okay.
But sometimes I´m able to see kids unpack a box and when I do there´s nothing more heartwarming than being able to see their smiles.
Book charity for children is a wonderful thing. It helps the community. It gives children a chance at reading the latest release or a popular book if their families can´t afford them. I´m not feeding the world but I´m giving what I can and that is a good book.
Now that a few more days have passed I still can´t say I´m over this issue. It´s still dishearting. This one encounter feels like a setback in so many ways. I´m questioning everything.
Could I have handled the situation better? Should I have refused their books? Americans aren´t popular over here at the moment so if I had acted as I had originally wanted and said the things that needed to be said – What would´ve been the outcome? Worst case scenario: My kids could become targets. I don´t want that. Not over books.
Is all this book charity worth it if I have to deal with these people? Do I want to put up with this? Oddly enough, I do. Not because of the parents but because of the children receiving these books.
I´m a firm believer that everyone should have easy access to books.
Sorry for the long rant. I´m just saddened by all this. Let´s hope I won´t have to deal with these people next year.
Thank you for reading my blog post. I really appreciate the time you just invested.
Hope you all have a wonderful day.