Bookwallah Gives Books to the Orphans of the World

08/30/2010 12:44 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Part of my practice as a coach is encouraging people I work with to actively give. By that I mean it's not enough to have a generous heart, you've got to get it in your bones, your feet and your hands. I love to hear about how people are getting involved in helping others and I have planned a couple of posts about the topic. Here's the first about a brilliant concept: Bookwallah.

I'm especially pleased to tell you about this project because one of the co-founders is a personal friend of mine and I know, for sure, that all that this group does is for the benefit of those they serve with no high overhead or wasted dollars. What they get is what they give in return!

Bookwallah (Hindi for 'book peddler') gives books to children in orphanages; period. Good enough for you to start collecting books or writing a check? It should be. G.Riley, himself a successful businessman, playwright and children's author, told me about his first visit to one orphanage in India (yes, he visits every orphanage to check them out).

He told me about one child he met there who had just been left by their aunt. The child was still unsure of what was going on; their mother had just died of AIDS and now they were alone in a strange place. G. Riley told me how this child had just been given a book and the way he held it as if it were his safety and security, a link to the life he'd never get back.

I mean, other than food and clothing plus a bed to sleep on, probably the best thing you can give a child is a love of books. It's one of the things my wife and I both take comfort in; that our kids love to read. A child in an orphanage who has a book has a passport to another world and Bookwallah is making sure that children around the world have this gift.

Bookwallah's sole mission is to collect and distribute children's storybooks, set up libraries, and spread the joy of reading to children of orphanages and children's homes throughout the world. They began the effort in India, have plans for Africa and, as I write this, G. Riley is in Jamaica checking out a new orphanage.

The idea for this great project began with Seena Jacob in Chicago and, as a coach and human cattle prod to so many people who get 'stuck', I really want people to get what she has done. Starting just last year, her vision and passion created a massive snow ball effect, which you can see if you visit the site and see what they've managed to create so far, and how thorough and well conceived the mission and strategy is. If you visit the site (you will, won't you?) you'll see the truth in what Margaret Mead said, ""Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has."

The amazing people at Bookwallah tell their own story much better than I can or even have the time for; I'm not a reporter, I'm a coach. So as a coach, I want to challenge you to stop reading and nodding your head 'good stuff they're up to' and to ask you to get into action, real action, to support this group.

If you ever, ever have given money and not known for sure how much of your dollar goes to the actual fulfillment of the cause then you can certainly feel better about your donation in this company. You will give a book and it will be in the hands of a scared orphan; period.

Get involved by:

  • Setting up a book drive at your office, place of worship, gym, anywhere: they tell you how to ship as many as 100 books for less than $15.
  • Go to your HR department and tell them about the many ways corporations can get involved: point of sale, in-kind donations for airline miles as they visit each orphanage, sponsorship, direct giving, etc.
  • Take it to your school; they have presentations to tell kids about what they're up to and to invite kids to reach out to others by collecting books and adding personal notes in the Buddy Program.
  • Join the email list, write a check, forward this article, tweet their mission to all of your friends, visit, write, share, talk and just, in general, change the world for the better.

God forbid that you who are reading this right now ever have to face the fear, the loneliness and the desperation, the absolute gut wrenching realization that anyone of your own kids, family or those you know might become an orphan, not to mention an orphan in an underdeveloped nation of the world.

If you can picture that awful possibility for even a second, then consider the cost of making a difference could be a bunch of books sitting on a shelf, collecting dust from your kids who may never again look at them, and that those books could open the door to a greater life for an orphaned child in an impoverished nation halfway around the world...

What are you waiting for? Go visit the site and tell them you heard about them here. I'll set up my way of giving to them and I'll return to tell you more about them as time goes on.

Please feel free to republish this article on any other site as long as you share the links to Bookwallah.