Author, madman, comedian and all-round-nice-guy Oliver Phommavanh shares why he has become a writer-ambassador for one of the world’s most dynamic, world-changing charities, Room to Read.
1. Out of all the charities in all the world, why did you decide to become a writer-ambassador for Room to Read?
Room To Read has a place in my heart because my world has always revolved around books and reading. I think every child in the world has a right to access education and books, and Room to Read reaches out to kids who normally wouldn’t have a chance to have their life changed by reading.
2. What do you most love about Room to Read’s work and approach to what they do?
One of my favourite things is that they give opportunities to more than just the kids. They publish many locally-produced books in local languages, so they are bringing up aspiring authors and illustrators. I love how they give back to the local communities and support local economies as well.
3. What makes you care about education and literacy for children in other parts of the world?
I think education and literacy really does open doors for kids. Children are blessed with creativity, where they can dream big and be anything they want and schools are the places where this magic happens. I can’t imagine living without schools and libraries, and yet this is the case for so many children around the world. I never want to take my education for granted, and I’m humbled to know that Room To Read are making a difference for so many children worldwide.
4. What kinds of things have you done to show your support for Room to Read over the years?
I’ve turned my book launches into fundraisers for Room To Read. My most recent book, Ethan is about a boy who loves books, so it was a natural fit to raise funds for the World Change Challenge. I’ve been lucky to be involved in many fundraising events, such as the beers night at the Red Oak in Sydney. I’m also mentioning Room To Read’s World Change Challenge during school visits throughout Term 3 and in the lead up to Book Week.
5. What actions can schools and students perform to show their support?
You can join us for the World Change Challenge. We’re hoping to reach $40,000 by October this year, so we can fund 40,000 books to the children of Nepal. Schools and libraries can have fundraisers around books, such as doing a book swap, a second-hand bookstore or even a readathon. I’ve been to one school where the kids were book-busking; they were reading books out loud in the playground for coins. If you’re looking for more information or ideas, you can visit the World Change Challenge homepage.