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The Episcopal School in North Philadelphia

In January, 32 donated books from St. James School made their way in the 50 lb. backpack of Lydia Ball, a Colby College research assistant working in Ethiopia.

Lydia — whose mother Deena Ball serves as the school’s art teacher — is studying Environmental Science at Colby in Waterville, Maine. She joined the research expedition for a second time this winter, led by her Environmental Studies Professor Travis Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds, Colby College students, and the TREE Foundation are exploring the sacred church forests of Ethiopia near the Debre Tabor region, inventorying the local species in search of ways to keep the unoccupied space left to the wild.

In recent trips, Reynolds discovered that the local children (ages 9-18) were enthusiastic helpers with the Americans.

“Children are everywhere in Northern Ethiopia!,” says Lydia. “They followed us around, intrigued by our collection of insects.”

After a recent visit to St. James School, Lydia noticed the vast amount of library books donated to the school over the course of the past two years. She was certain that the children in Ethiopia would appreciate a few books written in English, and asked the students if they wanted to make that donation. With the help of school librarian Betsy McCarthy, 32 books were selected and Lydia flew them with her and carted them out to the children in rural Ethiopia. Quite a trip!

The children were beyond ecstatic with the presentation. Not only would they be able to strengthen their English in preparation for higher learning, but they also found quite a remarkable connection with our students through a common faith. The Northern Ethiopian children are very involved in Christianity and were overwhelmed to learn that the books came from a Christian school in America.

Said one eighth grader of his new books:

“This is how the world is connected…through kindness.”