We hope you’ve been enjoying our ongoing series of Board member blogs. Each member provides such a unique twist, and today we are lucky to have a mother/son contribution! Board member Nina Houghton, a researcher and consultant with Inverness Research Inc. and a former elementary school teacher in northern California and Boston. She also lived/worked in an orphanage in India after college which made her want to go into education. So the result is a general passion for schools, teachers, and kids. Could WIJABA be any luckier to have someone with such a background? Of course, extra important is she’s a mom of two kids –Finn age 11, Augusta age 7. And she is very excited to have Finn share his take on WIJABA…as are we.
Recently I joined the Board of the WIJABA. It is something I was honored to do when my friend James started the organization. After years of pondering and capturing books’ importance and the role they play in children’s lives, James brought to fruition his idea of a group that supports disadvantaged children’s literacy. As a friend I was impressed with his persistence, focus and single-mindedness. As an educator I was impressed with his attention to detail, his commitment and his thorough thinking about what makes sense for kids and schools in achieving this goal.
Since being on the Board I have thought a lot about the issues of bringing books to children in Indonesia. With others I have analyzed and dissected how kids interact with books, how libraries are constructed, renovated, supplied, supported and sustained; how communities accept or benignly reject external interests to help; how different cultures thrive in the face of great adversity. Like lots of Board and Advisory members, I have been overwhelmed by the need of the constituents and the potential of the organization. But I have not felt as tangibly connected to the world of WIJABA kids as I did when I ran in the recent initial WIJABA 5K at USC. I ran in the race with my entire family — my husband Kent, my daughter Augusta and my son Finn. Finn is an 11-year old middle schooler living on the westside of Los Angeles. He was not so sure about running in the race initially. He didn’t feel any connection to these kids on the other side of the world. But I felt strongly about his participation, as a way to support the organization and to highlight the idea of giving back. There was a fair amount of complaining about having to run for something so seemingly far away, let alone to run as a family! When I asked him to blog about his experience, he had to do some careful thinking.
I am so lucky to be able to live in a beautiful part of the world with loving family and friends. When I first heard that I had to run a 5k the week after spring break, lets just say I wasn’t very enthusiastic. I didn’t want to run and I lacked the knowledge of what this organization is doing in a far away part of the world. Over time since we ran in the race, I have started to understand that there is a whole other side of the world that is not nearly as lucky as anyone living on the westside of LA with running water and new healthy food pretty much everyday. Some of the current events going on in the world have helped me to further comprehend this fact, such as the incidents in Japan or Haiti. I know that books have been a big part of my life, and without books, people can’t share their knowledge and stories with other people. I think the children in Indonesia will definitely benefit from the libraries that WIJABA is building for them.
I feel incredibly lucky to be connected to WIJABA, to have been able to run in the race with my family, and to be able to plant seeds of “it’s possible to be part of the change” efforts in my kids.
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