In sub-Saharan Africa 151 million people are illiterate; 62% of them are women. 72 million children still do not go to school, and most people simply cannot afford books of their own. *
Without literacy people are not able to access education or take advantage of many things we take for granted – healthcare, opportunities for employment or participate in social, economic and political decisions which affect their lives.
I have had times in my life when I’ve been too broke to buy books but I always knew those times would pass and until they did I enjoyed free and unrestricted use of well-stocked and easily accessible public libraries. I still do.
I’m a book junkie, I’ll admit it, I can’t pass a bookshop and these days I rarely, if ever come out without buying at least one. I love the smell of new books, I love the promise they give me and the adventures they bring. It’s time for me to help bring those adventures to someone else.
Last year I took part in Nanowrimo, that annual November madness to get 50,000 words down and emerge victorious at the end as a freshly minted Nanowrimo Winner. As a new writer of fiction this was an enormous personal challenge. Could I last the distance? Could I turn up at my keyboard every day? Would my story premise hold up? Had I written a decent outline or would I peg out half way and end up face-down on my keyboard from lack of a coherent plan?
As it turned out, I made it to my 50,000 word target in fact I overshot. One thing I can be certain of is that my Nano novel will never land on a publisher’s slushpile— it’s far too valuable as a doorstop.
So here we are at the beginning of September and I’m thinking what’s the point? Why bother to put myself through that frantic, feverish and some would say irrelevant experience all over again? It’s not like I need another doorstop.
An email landed in my mail today inviting me to take part in the 2nd Annual TWITs Charity Writing Marathon on 30th October. A 12 hour marathon. Aready my brain was churning. What if…? I thought about it for all of a few seconds before responding in the affirmative.
In the search for my charity of choice, it occurred to me mid-afternoon that it would make a tremendous springboard for Nanowrimo and why not combine the two? Why not step up the personal challenge and make it a little more public ?
So this is the deal:
BOOKS CHANGE LIVES.
THEY CHANGED MINE.
NOW I WANT TO HELP THEM TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
On 30 October 2010 I will be taking part in
The 2nd Annual TWITs Charity Marathon
a 12 hour writing marathon from 2pm to 2am
followed by the
30 Days of Nanowrimo
50000 word challenge
1 November to 30 November 2010
My aim is to write 10000 words during the TWITs Charity Writing Marathon and a further 60000 during the 30 days of Nanowrimo.
My progress will be posted here and on Facebook. Those helpful chaps and chapesses at Nanowrimo will supply a handly little widget and I’ll figure something out for the TWITs Marathon.
My goal in doing so is to raise £380 which will send a starter collection of 200 books to a community library through Book Aid International.
My request is simple – help me to do this by your sponsorship.
You can find my donation page at mygift.org.uk and to get the ball rolling I’ve already tossed a tenner in the pot.
My charity of choice is Book Aid International who send 500,000 new and carefully selected books to libraries in communities, schools, prisons, cities and refugee camps. They work in 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Occupied Territories of Palestine. The books they send are donated by UK publishers and cover a whole range of titles from childrens’ fiction to medical textbooks; dictionaries to Mills and Boon.
In addition to sending books they also provide grants for purchasing books locally (especially in local languages) and training together with ensuring books are targeted towards the right people and are well used.
With 50 years of experience in book provision and literacy development Book Aid International know that books change lives. I do too and that is why I’m excited to be involved in this way.
Who knows, maybe one day a book I have written will be used in this way. What could be more satisfying for a writer than that?
* Source: Book Aid International
Want to donate. Click here http://www.mygift.org.uk/eleventhjacinth