Thursday, May 29, 2014

Worth a read -- Book reviews

Today I'm taking a break from reporting on the DRC adoption situation, as it seems to change with every hour and I simply can't keep up. It tends to be very emotionally taxing, as well. The latest news is that in-country reps are reporting much more positive news on the adoption front than the latest DoS alert indicated, which I believe to be true. The DoS really seems to know how to put a damper on things.

I will, however, be replying to my Senator (whose office has done an AMAZING job getting in touch with us with every new piece of info, by the way) to explain that the DoS doesn't seem to be helping the situation and that significant delays in the process seem to be stemming directly from our own US Embassy in Kinshasa. 

And now, to change the subject a bit. Last week I finished three books that I believe are worth a read.

The first, Orphan Justice, was the best of the three, in my opinion. If you are looking for very practical ways to help orphans, not necessarily even through adoption, this is a great book that outlines several ways to get involved. It unpacks the AIDS crisis, special needs adoption, foster care, orphanage problems, and racism, and it provides applicable solutions and specific ways to get directly involved. Carr, the author, also shares very personal stories of how adoption changed his life. I highly recommend this book, even if you are vaguely interested in orphan care or adoption. 

Next, I read The Promise of a Pencil, based on recommendations from some well-known "good guys" on Twitter via a coworker. It intrigued me because the story sounded similar to that of Generation Next (more info about my involvement here). In both instances, someone noticed that in some third-world countries all kids really wanted was a pencil.

In the book, author Adam Braun documents his journey into the nonprofit/"for-purpose" world of building schools for children in villages throughout the world. Braun was on a fast-track to million-dollar employment contracts but his heart wouldn't let him take the opportunities offered to him. Instead, he quit his competitive and lucrative job and began his organization, Pencils of Promise, with $25 and used much of his own money to fly himself all over the world to seek out locations for schools.

A couple of caveats: The cover may lead you to believe that he was just an ordinary person like you and I, which I feel is a tiny bit misleading. He grew up in Greenwich, CT, and had plenty of connections to people with millions of dollars to spare. However, this doesn't negate the fact that he did an amazing job of organizing, leading, and strengthening his organization to improve millions of lives all over the world. Not to mention the fact that he appears to have worked his tail off making additional powerful connections, finding appropriate resources, and building an amazing team. I should also mention that the book contains a few curse words, in case that will bother you.

Overall, though, a VERY INSPIRING story of an organization that's worth looking into.

Lastly, I read The Noticer, by Andy Andrews. This was a quick and easy read, which I finished in about two days. It tells the story of a man, Jones, who notices everyday things that most of us take for granted. Jones shares his wisdom and findings with people in crisis situations (which we are all coming out of, entering into, or enduring through). My favorite part is when Jones shares the impact of one small decision on the livelihood of billions of people, then traces similar small decisions back several decades to prove that each small decision for good has a huge impact on future generations, even if indirectly. This is a good, quick read with plenty of reminders for us all.

Summer's coming. Soak up some wisdom.