SilverChicks Supports the Ethiopian Books for Children and Educational Foundation

SilverChicks.com has added helping EBCEF (Ethiopian Books for Children and Educational Foundation) to their list of worthy projects.

(PRWEB) June 11, 2005 -- SilverChicks.com, a small web-based bead and jewelry business that specializes in beads from the African trade and handmade, ceramic Kazuri beads from Kenya has started working with an American based non-profit organization which operates the only children's library in Ethiopia. The owners of SilverChicks.com have a strong love and deep interest in the Horn of Africa.

This organization, EBCEF, the Ethiopian Books for Children and Educational Foundation was founded with the purpose of increasing the literacy rate of children in Ethiopia and to create excitement about reading and encourage the pursuit knowledge.

Yohannes Gebregeorgis, a native of Ethiopia, learned to read in his village school in high school classes taught by Peace Corps volunteers. He fondly remembers the first book he held in his hands outside of school, at the age of nineteen. Yohannes later came to the United States as a political refugee, where he earned a master’s degree in library science and became a children’s librarian at the San Francisco Public Library. One of his duties as the children’s librarian was to purchase books in various languages to further develop the resources of the library. He was surprised to discover that, despite a large Ethiopian population in the San Francisco Bay area, he was unable to find books printed in any of the Ethiopian languages.

Recognizing the importance of reading for children in his native country, he organized a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Ethiopian Books for Children and Education Foundation (EBCEF) in 1998.

As Yohannes worked to develop his project, he contacted American author Jane Kurtz who has written books for children set in Ethiopia. Jane had grown up in Ethiopia, where her parents worked as missionaries. Near that time, Jane had been asked to help explore global missions at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Forks ND. Yohannes and EBCEF quickly came to mind and knowing first hand the power of books to open minds and to change lives, members of the First Presbyterian church enthusiastically joined Jane, her family and the librarian in accomplishing the dream of books in the hands of Ethiopian children.

Jane Kurtz is now EBCEF’s board of directors and has led this grass-root non-profit through its first step: publishing a picture book for Ethiopian children in 2002. The book "Silly Mammo" is the first bilingual book ever published, written in both English and Amharic. It is one of the few books at all published in an Ethiopian language. The text was done by Yohannes Gebregeorgis and the book design and editing were donated. "Silly Mammo" is used as a fundraiser for EBCEF.

Yohannes Gebregeorgis once again resides in Ethiopia where he is playing a very active role in changing the future of his homeland. April 7, 2003, was opening day for the Ethiopian Children’s Book Center, the first free library for children in Addis Ababa, a city of more than three million people. Established in a poor neighborhood with no safe spaces for play, reading or art activity, the center consists of two tented reading areas and three indoor reading rooms available free of charge to children eighteen and under.

The library has seating for up to 126 children and houses approximately 15,000 books on a variety of different subjects and reading levels, some in Ethiopian languages. Currently nine staff members keep the center open and running. The center is alive with storytelling and reading programs, arts and crafts days, movies and a theater program in addition to children quietly reading.

The library originally opened in the basement of Yohannes' house then expanded to fill the whole building with additional tents set up in the yard to make space for all the children who come. Over 40,000 visits have been made to the library since its opening in April of 2003.

Children from all over the neighborhood come to use the facilities to study, do their homework or escape with a good book. This is the first free library service for children in Addis Ababa and, according the principal of the neighborhood school, an indispensable resource. It is hoped that the reading center will serve as a model for Ethiopia and other African countries.

A $20,000 grant from the Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering provided much of the first year’s operating expenses. Now in the second year, the library’s operation relies on income from book sales, church partners and donations. It costs $83.00 USD each day to keep this library open, and there are many more plans and dreams for the potential for EBCEF.

Catie Dupont and Valissa McGuffee, owners of SilverChicks.com, happily offered their website as a virtual shopping cart to help raise funds for EBCEF to help keep the dream alive. Catie had the privilege of living in Ethiopia and seeing firsthand the impact that EBCEF is making in teaching a new generation to feel true hope through literacy.

SilverChicks.com has established a cash donation option on their website. Additionally, they are selling three books that have been donated to EBCEF on the site. “Silly Mammo”, “Only a Pigeon” by Jane and Christopher Kurtz, and “Saba: Under the Hyena’s Foot”, written by Jane Kurtz for the American Girl, Girls of Many Lands Program, is available for purchase. All monies received from the sales of these books go directly to EBCEF and its current and future projects.

Should you have further questions, please visit the EBCEF website at www.ethiopiareads.org. To purchase books in support of EBCEF, please visit www.silverchicks.com. For more information on author Jane Kurtz, visit www.janekurtz.com.

# # #

Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/6/prweb249828.htm