Reading Matters in South Africa

My name is Julie Hembree and I am a teacher-librarian.   I believe all children should have access to books and a quality education no matter where they live. 
Sadly as we all know, that isn't always the reality, especially in sub-Sahara Africa. I am only one person, but I believe I can make a difference one book and one child at a time. I have the opportunity to make a difference this summer, but I need your help.

Since 2012 my students and I have been sending books to teachers and students in southern Africa. In 2015 I visited the schools we support in South Africa. I saw the reality of children who desperately want to learn, but don't have the supplies or qualified teachers to help them achieve. 

I arrived curious. When I left, I vowed to send more books and and take action and return as a volunteer teacher. These children are creative, talented and eager to learn. They need to know that their education matters and the world needs to hear their voice.
Recently, I was accepted to volunteer teach with Volunteering Solutions. In July 2017, I will be traveling to South Africa to teach English in a primary school, in a township outside of Cape Town, South Africa.
Most of the children at this overcrowded and understaffed school come from extremely poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. I will have the opportunity to teach the children basic English language skills and assist the teachers in their work for two weeks. 
Because I will be in country, I will  also travel to Polokwane in the Limpopo Province and to Durban in KwaZulu Natal, where I will volunteer at the schools we have been supporting in my Books to Africa Partnership program.

I am reaching out to my friends, family and school community to help me. I have tried three times to fund this project with a national teacher grant foundation, but was unfortunately turned down. If I could, I would love to pay for the  trip entirely by myself. I did that in 2015, but that isn't possible this time. I'm uncomfortable asking for help, yet I can't give up on my commitment to help these children and the chance to bring back my experiences to the classroom.
 As an educator of young children, I have the ability to give them the starting point for exploring global awareness. If they can't travel to Africa, then I will bring the world of the students I meet in South Africa to my students in Washington. We will build a bridge of global learning. I will collect stories, songs and games while I'm there so we can learn what unites us and how we can learn from each other's cultures. 

My goal is to connect the cultures of our students in order for them to appreciate the diversity of their cultures and guide them into becoming global citizens through a new global citizenship project.

I believe this experience will help me transform my classroom strategies, leave a legacy for my students and impact their future as empathetic, global citizens in an ever-changing world.

I would be so grateful if you could help me achieve my dream. Your donation will help cover my program expenses, flight, and housing expenses. A contribution of any amount will be greatly appreciated.  

UPDATE: 4/27/2017  Thank you! Thank you! Thank  you! I have exceeded my goal and I am so grateful for your thoughtfulness and generosity. I have been asked what I will do with funds that exceed my goal. First please know that I will only use these funds for this project. I am going to bring an extra suitcase and fill it with books and school supplies to bring to the township schools. I would also like to bring some hard cover books so they will last longer. 
Again, thank you for your generosity. If you would like to learn more about my work in Africa, please visit my Books to Africa Partnership website:

hank you!
Julie Hembree

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  • Debbie Williamson 
    • $50 
    • 32 mos
  • Marty & Emily Kelly Peterson 
    • $50 
    • 32 mos
  • tom getgood 
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
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    • $50 
    • 32 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $30 
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Julie Hagstrom Hembree 
Sammamish, WA
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