Book value Africa Reads

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					                                                                               METRO EDITION
                                                                          FRIDAY NOVEMBER 25, 2005

Book value                                                                                                             “This is my time.
                                                                                                                   My time to give back,
                                                                                                                 to listen, to be part of a
                                                                                                                team to support literacy
                                                                                                                   education in Africa.”

                                                                                               Villagers to receive
                                                                                               the gift of literacy
                                                                                                   Spillberg, who lives in the Fox         She wound up going to Suffolk
                                                                                               Point neighborhood, realizes that her       University, in Boston.
                                                                                               contribution is small, a drop in the            After graduation, Spillberg began
                                                                                               bucket. But she hopes that the ripple       teaching at the Martin Luther King Jr.
                                                                                               effects from her books will travel well     School, a public elementary school in
                                                                                               beyond Arua.                                Cambridge, Mass. It was there that she
                                                                                                   “This is my time,” she says, "My        met her husband, Richard, a guitarist
                                                                                               time to give back, to listen, to be part    and music producer.
                                                                                               of a team to support literacy education         One day, Spillberg walked into her
                                                                                               in Africa.”                                 school library and saw a sign that said
                                                                                                   SPILLBERG’S FAMILY lived in             “Free Books.”
                                                                                               Uganda during the brutal dictatorship           She paused and thought, “Why not
                                                                                               of Idi Amin. Her father was a profes-       take these books back to Africa?”
                                                                                               sor who had been educated in Europe.            She decided to teach her kinder-
                                                                                                   In 1974, Amin got wind of plans to      garten class about Africa. During one
                                                                                               overthrow his goverment.                    lesson, she removed every book from
                                                                                                   The seditious letter was suppos-        the classroom and asked her students
Rachael Adriko Spillberg, of Providence, will travel next month to her hometown of Arua,       edly traced back to the university          to share the same book, just as the
Uganda to deliver 5,000 books to schoolchildren who regard a book as a cherished possession.
                                                                                               where Spillberg’s father worked.            children of Uganda do.
                                                                                               Fearing reprisals, the family fled across       They hated it, but they were also
            BY LINDA BORG                           On Dec. 26, she will travel to her
           JOURNAL STAFF WRITER                                                                the border to Kenya.                        stunned to learn that so many chil-
                                                hometown of Arua, a rural village in               When Spillberg was in seventh           dren had so little.
     PROVIDENCE — There is an old               Uganda, to deliver 5,000 books to a            grade, her family returned to Uganda,           Spillberg launched her book drive,
African saying that girls pave the way          region where universal literacy is more        but it was not an easy time. The            tapping colleagues and friends for
between two cultures.                           a promise than a reality.                      Ugandan people were scarred by 10           donations. Before long, the pile had
     Rachel Adriko Spillberg, an African            From there, one of the villagers           years of bloody civil war. People were      grown from 200 books to 500, from
woman who was born into privilege in            will travel by bicycle to deliver the gift     frightened and distrustful.                 500 to 1,000. Her husband’s company,
a country torn apart by civil war, says         of literacy to hundreds of school-                   An aunt urged Spillberg — by          Lighthouse Medical Management of
it is her obligation to give something          children in the country's northwest            then, a rebellious teenager — to get        Providence, joined in the effort; it later
back.                                           corner.                                        out of Africa and move to America.          shipped 600 books to Africa.
Rachael Adriko Spillberg, sorts some of the books she’s boxed in the basement of her Providence home. She hopes to deliver 5,000 books to children in her hometown of Arua, Uganda, on Dec. 26.

    Meanwhile, Spillberg had asked               lage turned out to bless the library and         of civil unrest, families were used to
her aunt to approach the village elders          invoke the spirit of longevity. Ten-             soldiers taking everything they had.
about starting a library in Arua.                foot-long Akadinda xylophones and                The children were simply trying to
    They were delighted.                         Adungu wind instruments were                     protect a cherished possession.
    One of the elders said, “I think the         played, calling the villagers to cele-               “Worship that book,” she told the
books should be enjoyed by the peo-              brate.                                           children. “Honor that book. It could
ple of other villages. I have a bicycle.”            “As the musicians carved the                 take you beyond the borders of your
    Another said, “I have a box to go            wood,” Spillberg says, “I could see that         village.”
on the back of the bicycle.”                     my mission was a lot more important                  A library is so much more than the
    And a third said, “I know someone            than I had thought.”                             four walls that contain it. A library can
who will ride the bicycle.”                          The community began singing and              exist wherever books are read and
    LAST CHRISTMAS, Spillberg and                dancing in unison, to welcome the                loved.
her husband traveled to Uganda with              arrival of the library. When Spillberg               “Literate children will go back to
their boxes of books.                            began handing out her books, the chil-           their communities,” Spillberg says.
    Their first stop, on Dec. 26, was            dren lunged forward, their hands out-            “Literate children will help their fam-
Vurra, where her entourage met with              stretched.                                       ilies make greater profits on their
the villagers, most of whom are strug-               “It broke my heart,” Spillberg says,         farms. And increased literacy will one
gling to live with HIV.                          “that in 2005, African children would            day help Uganda grow out of the Third
    “I could see the community danc-             be fighting for books as if they were            World.”                                              Anyone who has books or ideas to
ing and swaying mango branches, the              food.”                                               THIS CHRISTMAS, Spillberg                    share may contact Spillberg by e-mail at
children dressed in their Sunday best,”              BECAUSE THESE children had                   again will return to her village — this
Spillberg recalled.                              never seen a library, Spillberg had to           time, with 5,000 books. Once again,
    “We talked about AIDS and how it             explain how one worked.                          the villagers will welcome their visitors
affected the village. From a teacher to              When the bell rings, she told them,          with song and dance, the children will
a reverend to a mother of nine chil-             bring the books back to me. But                  press together in anticipation, the eld-
dren, it was clear that the village had          instead of giving the books back, the            ers will bless the books and offer
created a community where everyone               children ran for the hills.                      thanks. “It is my duty to help my peo-
had a role.”                                         Spillberg was stunned. She had               ple,” she says, "my duty that lead me
    The grand finale was in Arua. As             never seen a child hide a book.                  back home to this culture that I belong
Spillberg approached, the entire vil-                Then it dawned on her. After years           to.”

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