Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Sacrifice of Love: Books for the Poor

This story is from Brazil, but could be have been from anywhere. I remember an old man in my hometown in India doing something similar for years, carrying and distributing books throughout the city for those who needed them, on a bicycle as old as himself.
Carlos Leite can barely read a word, but books revolutionized his life.

Two years ago, he was doing construction work for a man who was about to toss out six thick, red encyclopedias. Leite asked whether he could have them instead. Thus a dream was born.

Within days, he hit the pavement, knocking on doors, begging people for more unwanted books. No contribution was too small, too big or too arcane. Skeptical members of Leite's cycling club were dragooned into helping him collect donations.

His collection quickly multiplied. The original six volumes turned into 100, then 1,000. Soon, his humble home was bursting with 5,000 books of all types — worn classics, chemistry textbooks, dog-eared thrillers.

To Leite, though, nearly all the books are mysteries. Born into a poor family, he dropped out of school after third grade and, at 51, is practically illiterate.

But books, he knows, are the gateway to a life of greater possibility and more promise than his own. It might be too late for me, a working man, he reasoned, but not for others.

So bloomed the passion that has consumed Leite's free time over the last two years: transforming his home into a public library, free and open to all in this poverty-stricken neighborhood outside Rio de Janeiro. The streets here are unpaved and unweeded, daily life is a struggle and even a single book is an enormous luxury that can cost up to half a week's wages...read on

1 comment:

Harini Calamur said...

quite a remarkable story. it is little acts of courage like this that change societies.