Showing posts from November, 2008

China Social Entrepreneurs

On my recent visit to Hong Kong, I was able to see the amount of excitement and interest in social entrepreneurism. One had to assume there's a lot going on in China, too, but it's hard to connect with. I just received an update from KK Tse entitled The Most Inspiring Story from the Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship, talking about 1KG More, a social enterprise that implemented Voluntourism: combining backpacking with delivering books and other gifts for rural Chinese children. Their latest venture: Twin books are a pair of selected books for children. If one book is sold in cities, another book will be donated to rural children. The owners of these two books will become a “twin”. Through the twin code in the book, the children in cities can find contact information of rural children on Twin Book’s website and make communication through letters with rural children. The twin book project sold over 2000 fairy story books in 2007 and more than 1000 rural students benefited fro

Getting a Genset in Chennai

We have a partnership with the Worth Trust in Chennai, India, to do data entry for, funded by the Lavelle Fund. I blogged about it in May: Scanning in Tamil Nadu . Our international manager, Viji Dilip, recently wrote about making a change in what kind of capital equipment to get Worth Trust to help carry out their work: Strange as it may sound I grew up with hearing this often, "Everyone please save all your files now as the current will be going off in the next five minutes." OK, there were no computers when I was growing up in India but the current going "off" was very common. Sometimes for an hour or two and in summer for several hours at a stretch when the Electricity Board scheduled power cuts for every city . These power cuts could last from anywhere from an hour to three hours in the afternoon depending on when the supervisor at the EB came back from lunch. "There was no current" was our equivalent of "The dog a

I am Potential

Our team is delighted that we've just added I Am Potential, by Patrick Henry Hughes to the collection . Patrick's story is getting a lot of deserved attention nationally as a significantly disabled college student who hasn't let disabilities stop him from pursuing his dreams. What is even cooler is that Perseus Books, Patrick's publisher, reached out to us during the production process to make sure that the book was available to people with print disabilities. Even coolerer (I know that's not a word, but this is a blog so it's ok), is that is plugged on the copyright page of the print book with the phrase: Alternate editions for the visually impaired are available through Benetech at So, users are invited to check out Patrick's book, and everybody else who's interested should buy a copy! And, thank you to Perseus Books for going the extra mile in ensuring this book is availabl

Seeing the United Arab Emirates

I went to Dubai for the first ever Summit on the Global Agenda . The Summit pulled together experts on roughly seventy different topics to discuss the current and future state of major issue areas: areas as varied as water, mining, nanotechnology, governance, economic development, economic meltdown (kidding) and so on. Obviously, there was a lot of buzz about the financial meltdown, especially in a place like Dubai that has built itself up as a major international business center (Dubai as an emirate has relatively little oil compared to some of the other gulf emirates). I spent the day before the council driving around the United Arab Emirates and a bit in Oman. The UAE are in an incredible state of construction: I don't know of many places on earth (other than China) where so much has been built so fast. Out in the middle of the desert, you would encounter brand-new freeways, or towns that seemed to have been plopped down in the middle of nowhere. This one small town seemed t

To Dubai on an Emirates Airbus 380

My current business trip started by heading for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I had been invited to attend the Global Agenda Council meeting organized by the World Economic Forum. It was easier to say yes than usual: I'd never been to Dubai or the region, and the government of Dubai and Emirates airline offered to fly me there business class! I was stunned when I found out in New York that the plane I was boarding was the new Airbus A380, the massive, double-decker airliner. The entire second floor is first and business class, and the first class (which I didn't get to see) is famous for having showers. The experience was wonderful, although I must admit I slept soundly for at least eight hours. When I got up, I hung out in the bar taking pictures (of course). I had slept through the night and into the late afternoon in the Middle East. We flew over snow-capped mountains in Turkey. I was surprised a little later to realize that we were flying over Iraq. It seemed ironic

The Bookshare Bulletin

We've just started up a new publication, The Bookshare Bulletin . It's amazing to me how much our team has gotten done over the last year! There are easily a dozen articles in this first issue about our new website, international work and many more. I'm quite excited about a new initiative which is the last article in the newsletter. We've now made it easy to report quality issues with Bookshare books, and we have a new wiki-style webpage where all of the reports are posted and updated as the issues are resolved. It's part of our campaign to upgrade the quality of all of our Bookshare content, and to let our users know exactly what we're doing. We think that making this completely transparent will be a big boost to our credibility, while engaging the entire Bookshare community in making our books the best they can be!

Print Access for All: Anna Reid in Chennai

This is a guest blog from Anna Reid, an Amherst student who interned with International this past summer. I received a copy of her reflections and asked if I could share it with more people. Thanks to Anna for saying yes, and for sharing her experiences! Reflections on an internship with in Chennai, India Made possible through support from the Amherst College Center for Community Engagement Anna Reid, religion major, class of 2010 Anna Reid with employees of Worth Trust, a South Indian organization that provides vocational training and employment for people with disabilities. Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that all people deserve "the right to seek, receive and impart information." Today, millions of people are denied this basic human right because they are not literate. A related, but slightly different and less recognized issue, is the fact that people with disabilities such as blindness often have