A hunger to help read

Stauffer Library plays host to Room to Read’s 10th annual live-in

Rene Zou, left, and Yuzuki Saitoh are camping out in Stauffer Library to raise money for Room to Read.
Rene Zou, left, and Yuzuki Saitoh are camping out in Stauffer Library to raise money for Room to Read.
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Two students living in Stauffer Library for the week are pitting Queen’s faculties against each other, Hunger Games-style, as they raise money for a charity that works to promote literacy in developing countries.

The 10th annual live-in is organized by the Queen’s chapter of Room to Read, a charity organization that donates money and works with local communities, including writers and publishers, to offer an accessible education for children.

It also builds schools, libraries and provides scholarships to girls in the developing countries it operates in.

Queen’s Room to Read is the only university chapter in Canada that’s officially affiliated with the charity.

Rene Zou, the director of logistics and events for the Queen’s chapter, and Yuzuki Saitoh started their live-in on Jan. 21, and it’ll end on Jan. 28. They’ve been sleeping in a tent in Stauffer and only leave to shower or to go to class.

The live-in is Hunger Games-themed, with each faculty assigned one of the 12 districts of Panem, the country the series is set in. Members from the faculty that donates the most money will be entered into a raffle to win The Hunger Games trilogy boxset and a copy of the first movie.

“It has definitely attracted a lot of attention,” said Zou, ArtSci ’18.

“We’ve had a really good chance to engage … just do community outreach and just explain our cause, and it’s been a really heartwarming thing to see people looking at our map and engaging in our activities.”

So far they’ve raised over $500 and are aiming to reach $1,000 by the end of the live-in.

The two campers have hosted a bake sale, organized a photobooth by donation and held a “spot the typo” contest. They’ll also hold another bake sale and host a whiteboard campaign before they pack up.

Zou said funding local writers and publishers to write books for schoolchildren allows for reading material to be more culturally suited to the children’s needs.

“The local writers are writing them and so the children are more engaged and it’s coming from what they’re around, so it’s a bit more relatable for [the children],” Zou said.

Zou added that since the charity hires local writers and publishers, it allows for a more sustainable and efficient business model that spurs economic development in the communities the charity works in.

“They publish books in collaboration with the publishers and writers, they also build libraries and schools in the developing countries — and not only that, they very strongly believe in gender equality in education,” she said.

Zou said having access to education is a basic right, and added that it’s important in addressing many of the issues in the world today.

“I honestly think that education is the first step to solving global issues, whether it be poverty, the water crisis or just health issues in terms of overpopulation and infant mortality and a lot of different issues that are really connected to literacy and education,” she said.

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