My name is Rachel, and I am a photographic storyteller. I have the amazing opportunity to pack up my gear and visit remote villages in Zambia and Zimbabwe, Africa, with a nonprofit organization named Elizabeth’s Library International. In these villages, I will be photographing the people and projects that this incredible organization supports. I want to tell their stories, and I need your help to send me there!
About Elizabeth’s Library International
The ability to read is often taken for granted, yet it is estimated that over two billion men, women and children in our world are not able to read.
Without the ability to effectively use written information around them, navigation through society and upward social movement are challenging. These people are unable to gain the necessary opportunities to better the lives of their families and communities.
Elizabeth’s Library International partners with local national leaders and organizations to establish community libraries in underserved areas, which serve as a venue for educational and learning opportunities for both children and adults.
Elizabeth’s Library was founded in July 2013. In just a short year and a half, Elizabeth’s Library has already established libraries, reading programs, and scholarships in the countries of Cote d‘Ivoire, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The success is a true blessing, but the programs are growing faster than the flow of available funding. Elizabeth’s LIbrary intends to continue to grow and expand to countries all over the world, but the problem is this: the places in most desperate need of help are isolated and have very little contact with other parts of the world. It is difficult, if not impossible, for them to reach out for aid.
How You Can Help
I strongly believe that the people of our own community would be more than happy to help, if they only knew who needed the assistance, and what they could do. My photographs will tell the story of these underserved individuals, and tell our community exactly what we can do. Whether it be a donation of books, time or funding, I know that we have more than enough resources to share. We just need to raise awareness, and get the word out there. And you can help right here, right now, by donating to help me tell their stories!
Furthermore, to assist these people even after we have left their countries, our plan is to bring them reliable digital cameras, as these are very difficult to come by where they live. I will be assuming the role of photography teacher as I teach the program directors photography skills. Armed with these skills, they can express their own triumphs and hardships to share with the rest of the world. Sharing my photography knowledge is truly one of the most exciting parts of this trip for me.
Facts About the Trip
In May/June 2015, I will be accompanying a team of volunteers as they visit remote villages in Zambia and Zimbabwe to dedicate a new library, help plant library gardens, visit the site where a new library is to begin construction and deliver educational materials. We will spend just over two weeks there. On top of the international flight, reliable transportation within these countries will be very expensive, as these are not places where an average traveller usually goes. Plus, immunizations, a passport renewal, food and lodging, all add up. I am 100% donating my time and creativity to this project, and not charging the organization for my services. Any additional funding received beyond my travel expenses will be used to purchase items such a books, puzzles and supplies to deliver to the children and adults in the villages. I am praying that the generosity of the people around me will pitch in to send me on this trip, as I am unable to do it on my own.
How I Became Involved
My involvement with this organization began with my mother mentioning a member of her church had founded a charity in the name of a childhood friend. I met Elizabeth Tolhurst in the first grade at Robert H. Down Elementary school in Pacific Grove, California. I have fond memories of playdates with Elizabeth, and many hours of setting up stuffed animals as “students” so that we could play the teachers. She was caring and compassionate even as a young child. Her health however was a challenge during her entire life, as Elizabeth was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when very young. As we grew older and went to different schools, Elizabeth and I lost contact. A huge shock came in 2011 when I was informed of her passing. During the last years of her life, Elizabeth joined a support group for an outreach program serving orphans and widows in Malawi, Africa. It was here that she met the Founder and current Chair of the Elizabeth’s Library Board, Lana Lynn. Lana was so touched by the gentle determination and vibrant spirit of Elizabeth that she named the organization after her. Last year, I attended the first anniversary celebration for this nonprofit, and I was immediately impressed by the stories told by volunteers who had been to the program sites. I knew I wanted to help in any way I could.
To read stories of what Elizabeth's Library International has already done in the world, please visit their website at www.elizabethslibrary.org.
To see my photography, visit
THANK YOU so much for your support!
Words cannot express how much this means to me. I cannot wait to come home and share my photographs with you!
More on what Elizabeth's Library is doing: