Making connections at the Detroit Book Fest
Sarah Sparkman Sustainability Intern Update
As sustainability intern I’ve loved getting the chance to look at the ‘behind the scenes’ of the products that the Three Sisters artisan partners hand make. This past week at the Eastern Market Book Fair I was honored to work the Three Sisters booth selling the Books that Bind. While working the table, I was also able to hear about Marcy’s trip to Benin to visit with the artisans and hear about the process of finalizing the books. The books are folktale stories from Benin that have been passed down from the elders to the children and are the first children’s books in this community that the kids can read in their own language. They are all trilingual and when you purchase one, one is printed for the free library in Benin that Three Sisters set up. The Books that Bind project was produced through a grant from the United States Embassy in Cotonou, Benin with the goal of creating local language reading materials for people of all ages. Each of the stories in the series were first recounted by storytellers, and then translated into five of the Beninese languages as well as French and English.
Marcy had just gotten back from Benin the night before the book fair. In Benin she was able to get every copy signed by those who directly worked on them. I loved having the opportunity to explain this process and our mission of funding the tutoring program to those who passed by. And I was also so excited that my family stopped by to buy a few things! Many people had stories about how they were somehow connected to Benin or do similar work and a couple of them really stood out to me. One woman was sharing how her son in law and grandson recently traced back all of their ancestry to Benin, Africa, so her young grandson is currently learning French. She was so excited to bring a copy of this children’s book to him. Another woman shared that she had been a Detroit Public School teacher all her life, and a couple years ago she decided to move to Khartoum, Sudan to teach Kindergarten. She bought a book to share with the kids there and was fascinated with the idea of Bloom, a website that translates all kinds of books to the language you speak. She was interested in translating this book to Sudanese Arabic for her students because we will soon be adding the books to the Bloom website.
Overall, it was a successful week of bringing awareness to the causes we care about, making more money to fund the tutoring program and connect with people who care about similar things!