Here at Levenger our year started off with a gift that came in the form of an email from the International Reading Association. We had invited them to be the recipient of our donation made in conjunction with the sale of our Thai Pad. This book-and-iPad pillow is made by hand by women in a remote village of northeast Thailand. (My son Cal traveled there last year and sent back his dispatch on Thai Pad Country.)
We knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to have our donation reach the specific village, but we were happy to know that it would benefit aspiring readers in some part of the country.
And then we received this email from Amy Kushner, a program officer at the International Reading Association:
Happy New Year! I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to update you on the Thai project. I just received a response from Uthai Piromruen, a literacy expert in Thailand who has been one of the most active members of the reading association over the past many years. At one time, he was the President of the Thailand Reading Association, and has also served as the Chair of our Asia-wide region. I wanted to forward you his response (below), so that you can pass along his joy and appreciation of the gift that Levenger directed toward Thailand. His email also explains the delay in getting back to me (flooding severely affected his home). He is going to start working on setting up a literacy project in the town where the Thai Pads are made (he worked there many years ago!), so that is very exciting! I will keep updating you as things move along. I think many of our members in Thailand are still recovering from the flooding, but hopefully this project will start becoming more concrete in the near future.
All the best.
Program Officer, Global Operations
International Reading Association
From: uthai piromruen
Sent: Monday, January 09, 2012 9:32 AM
To: Amy Kushner
Cc: Uthai Piromruen; pat ratana
Subject: Re: Special funds for Thailand Reading Association
It is exciting to receive your mail with good news about Thai Pad.
I'm sorry for my delay in responding to you due to the great flood in Thailand. The first floor of our house was flooded and all books on wooden shelves were dissolved in the water. I took pity for myself that my precious belongings---books from my readers' digest collection which I brought from USA, long time ago were disappeared. This flood destroyed my literacy asset. When I heard that Thai Pad has become a popular book stall for reading and literacy from Levenger, it brought me joy that there is something to compensate for my great loss in the flood this year.
I think I know the place where the product was made. In fact, I used to be in that area long time ago--as a local primary school teacher.
It's great that Levenger Company has their keen eyes in giving supports for literacy. I will relate the story to my colleagues at Thailand Reading Association. We are happy to collaborate with IRA to set up a literacy project in the village where the Thai Pad was made and becoming well-known.
Thank you very much for giving us this good news. I'll let you know soon of how we work together to use the fund from Levenger's donation.
May you also have a Happy Season's Greeting with Joyful Blessing and Happiness throughout the year 2012.
Thailand Reading Association
Occasionally people scratch their head and say to me, “Just what exactly do you mean by a well-read life?” The next time someone asks, I’m going to show them this email.
Happy 2012 to you, dear reader, and thank you for helping to make dreams come true.