Ethiopia Reads was started by Yohannes Gebregeorgis, a native Ethiopian who entered the United states as a political refugee early in his life. He earned a Master's degree of library science and worked as a children's librarian in San Francisco. Although there was a large Ethiopian population in San Francisco it was impossible to find children's books written in Amharic or other native Ethiopian languages. This prompted Gebregeorgis to team up with Jane Kurtz and write the first English/Amharic book for children titled Silly Mammo. In 2003 Gebregeorgis took it a step further and moved back to Addis Ababa to build the Shola Children's Library. Gebregeorgis and his team also regularly pack up a small library on a donkey to make books and reading available to children in rural areas.
Ethiopia Reads includes the Shola Children's Library, a school library development program, a publishing program to encourage more English/Amharic books, a training program for Ethiopian teachers and librarians, and various child development workshops and initiatives throughout Addis Ababa.
Donations of dollars can be made through the website and Ethiopia Reads is also accepting books, reading-related posters, and school supplies that can be shipped either directly to Ethiopia or to a United States office [book donation guidelines and addresses for shipment], and if you're a big spender consider sponsoring ($10,000) or co-sponsoring ($5,000) a library in Ethiopia. A full-sponsored library includes furniture, books, training materials, sorting & transport of books, Amharic and English education & fiction books, reference materials, art & office supplies, decorations, library skills training, management and oversight, and 3 years of collective development and training.
In 2009 Ethiopia Reads hopes to sell copies of Silly Mammo and other Amharic/English books for children on the website.