Linda's mom with booksMy first concrete memory of Mom is of her reading to my little brother and me. We were sitting on the rust-colored orange carpet of the living room with our backs against a cupboard. Vince and I were tucked into either side of Mom while she read from Aesop’s Fables. Mom reading to me is a recurring memory. Reading and education were so important to her, and she devoted her life to them. She taught in rural country schools, small community schools, and ended her official teaching career as the librarian at Roncalli High School in Aberdeen, SD. She passed along to her students and her children and grandchildren a great love of reading. Mom died after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009. Her love of reading was a great gift and amazing legacy to leave behind.

Linda mom 2In 2015 I had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with Habesha Momma. One of the projects we’d be working on was a new school in the town of Awassa. The school was a project of love for the man who would be our driver and guide, and he wanted to build the school to honor the memory of his dad. Because of my mom’s legacy of reading, it seemed natural to me that every school should have a library, and when I presented this idea to Habesha Momma, it was greeted with enthusiasm.

I set about seeking donations of funds for the library. We’d need bookshelves and furniture and, of course, books! Friends and family of mine and of mom’s stepped forward in an amazing way, and the initial phase of the project was fully funded before I boarded the flight that would take me to Ethiopia. Accompanying me was 100lbs of books and learning materials for the library. My luggage was heavy, but my heart was flying!

Books for Linda's momWalking into the school compound and then into the building that would house Mom’s library was overwhelming. I couldn’t hold back the tears or the emotions. Because of Mom’s love of books and reading, children halfway around the world were going to be holding books in their hands and learning to love the written word. These books would open up the world for the children who’d soon be enrolled at Mulat Knowledge School! Every book I brought over included a message that it was donated in loving memory of Beth Geditz. Several years after Mom’s death, her legacy of reading continues and will be carried on by countless children who learn to love books and to see the world through the lens of the written word.

The founder of Habesha Momma, Andrea Gaines, recently returned to visit Mulat Knowledge School to deliver backpacks and school supplies to the first group of students. I’m so thrilled to report that MKS has jumped all hurdles and has been given government approval to open our doors to 100 students in the fall. This is huge!

Books for Linda's momAs MKS looks to the future, we have a continued need of funding and for MORE books! You can help by becoming a one-time or monthly donor.  I’m asking all of you who loved my mom or who love books or love children – well, I’m asking ALL of you who read this! – to consider a monthly donation of $10 or $20 each month. Your money will be buying a bright future for the students of Mulat Knowledge School, and it will enable Mom’s legacy of reading to continue and reach so many.

As Andrea visited with the excited children, they had one request for all of us back here, “More books, please!” My heart is overflowing with joy knowing that Mom’s love of reading is indeed being passed to these beautiful children.  This wouldn’t be possible without your generosity!

Written by Linda Spagnotti

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