Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games—we’ve all read one (or all) of these books at some point. But sadly, many people worldwide don’t have this luxury.
In Tanzania, there is an epidemic of illiteracy among girls. And one young person is taking action against this growing book famine. DoSomething.org member Shannon McNamara has founded SHARE (Shannon’s After-School Reading Exchange), a nonprofit org that looks to empower and educate girls in Tanzania.
“I did some research on the region, and found out about the fierce gender inequality that exists,” the 19-year-old stated. “I was shocked that something of this magnitude existed, and just felt an immediate urge to help.”
According to McNamara, one of the biggest obstacles (surprisingly!) was convincing parents of the SHARE girls to let their daughters join the program. Mothers were at first hesitant because they needed help with cooking and other household chores. But, after hearing the benefits of education most let their daughters join.
“I have traveled to Africa every summer for the past four years with my family to build libraries filled with donated books, provide schools with electricity, start after-school reading programs for girls only, and provide girls in the SHARE program with scholarships,” she said.
“The smallest starting step can lead to a lifetime of volunteering, and that's the most rewarding thing in the world,” McNamara added. Her advice for teens: “find a charity that really hits home for you, and whose mission you strongly agree with. Then, contact them and see if you can help in whatever way possible.”
What can you do?
- If you took part in Epic Book Drive, tell us about it.
- 11 facts about literacy in the US.
- Raise awareness about this issue at your school.