Friday, October 21, 2016

From Pages to Nepal

You know what books do? They inspire. They introduce you to friends, enemies and role models. They hold your hand and guide you through the Chamber of Secrets and allow you to walk through the wardrobe endlessly. Books open worlds, minds and hearts to unknown passions. And the people that love books never keep the good ones to themselves.

In 10th grade my favorite trick was slouching in my seat and propping the text book between my stomach and the desk. But sandwiched in between myself and my education was often a book. I'm sure my teachers noticed, because what teenager looks that engrossed in a text book?

Whether they noticed  or not, I only remember one teacher recommending me books. She didn't just recommend good books, she suggested ones that she thought I would enjoy. And, as every excellent teacher does, she went above and beyond by recommending books that jived with existing passions I had.

But no book could compare to SOLD by Patricia McCormick. Suddenly I was sitting beside a Nepali girl in a dirty, Indian brothel, fighting for her freedom. I reread her story. Her hike through Nepal into India. Her days of being broken into the sex workers world. Her longing for hope when none was visible. Suddenly I had an unlikely friend that I had to set free. I had to meet her. I had to walk the roads in Nepal, a country I could barely locate on a map.

So I went. In 2015 I carried my own copy of SOLD into the very country that birthed the main character. I put the book in my purse and waited for the right moment. I wanted to take a picture holding the book with some Nepali girls. When my moment happened it was even more beautiful than I had planned.
These girls surrounding me are from a people group that was enslaved until just 10 years ago. Some of them were born into captivity, but because of those willing to fight, they no longer have to live enslaved. They are free. And I got to meet them. And hold hands with them and dance with them.
They're real, not held to the pages of a book. But without a book, I would have never met them. And without a great teacher I would never know what a giant impact a good book can make.