This week, we finally witnessed the fruits of our labor, as books began pouring into our latest libraries. It has taken us a long while to get to this point, from ordering the books, to quality control, to delivering the books to their final destinations.

Ordering the books themselves took us about two weeks. We ordered books from twelve selected publishers, each of which provided us with many exciting options, yet we had to narrow our selections so that we may provide the elementary school students of East Nusa Tenggara with enough books, while still keeping to our budget.

Then the books began to arrive in Jakarta by the thousands. All in all, we ordered close to 24,000 books, or an average of 1,200 books for all twenty schools. To ensure that the right school gets the right books, the books must all be:

  1. Unpacked
  2. Checked for defects, and finally
  3. Grouped by school
  4. Re-packed and shipped to Ende

This isn’t a feasible endeavor for just one or two people. Even with all of the Ende team present, it would possibly still take three weeks to complete. Luckily, we were not alone. Not only did we bring the Ende team to Jakarta to help, but real live aliens descended upon us from galaxies hitherto unknown bringing with them technology so beyond the limits of our comprehension… just kidding we had volunteers. Yes. Volunteers arrived in throngs to ease our burdens carry the weight of our world on their shoulders.

For a whole week, we had at least 3 volunteers (did I say “throngs”? I meant three) come in each day to help us. Even more amazingly, as it was Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, most of the volunteers fasted throughout the book quality control and separating process. Not a drop of water swallowed, nor a cracker eaten, even as they spent the whole day running to and fro carrying books in their hands. Still, laughter permeated the room and everyone did their duties joyfully. Best of all, thanks to these volunteers, what could’ve taken us three weeks to complete was cut down in half.

Volunteers Sorting Books

Finally the books were sorted, and ready to be shipped off to Ende. In the previous cycle, we only sent about 1 ton of books for all 18 schools, so imagine our surprise when it turned out we sent not one, not two, but actually three tons of books to Ende. The simple act of loading the boxes onto the trucks took two whole days, not to mention the time it must’ve taken to pack. A week later, the boxes arrived (mostly) safe and sound in Ende.

Books, sorted, packed and ready to be shipped
Even more books ready to be shipped

Here we finally return to the beginning of this post, where the schools have begun to receive the books we have spent a month ordering, checking, sorting and shipping. We arrived at the schools in trucks carrying boxes upon boxes of books and the kids’ excitement as we unloaded the boxes was almost palpable.

All that’s left is for the teachers to rank the books based on difficulty and then displaying it in the library for all the children to read. May they find pleasure in reading the books they’ve received, just as we had delivering them.

Teachers and students at Ende unloading books

Happy reading everyone!