Lydie Hakizimana, owner of the 3 year old Rwandan bookstore, Librairie Drakkar, is "slightly" afraid of dogs. This in spite of having a nearly two year old dog herself, albeit one with a jumping up problem. But mainly the problem is that she is to spend time at my home in August, home of Bruno, the 93 pound American Bulldog (http://www.bruno.blogspot.com/, a blog in sorely in need of updating) and his canine sister, the lovely Greta, a 45 pound huntin' dawg. Not that these dogs are dangerous. But Bruno is, well, a presence. I have assured Lydie that if she has reservations about staying with us, I will arrange for a pet-free experience in the home of a friend. But I will regret the lost opportunities for all of the informal ways you get to know a person when you sleep under the same roof.
Lydie sent me a long wonderful get-to-know-you email yesterday and I replied with about a thousand questions of my own. As I expected, she reports that bookselling in Rwanda is a challenge. The country is quite poor and many are suspicious of reading in general. When business is bad, we retailers know it's good to have a plan B Or C. For Lydie, she has managed to become the sole Rwandan distributor for a line of publishers contained under the Pearson umbrella. This is really great! I can't even imagine what life for Left Bank Books would be like if we had sold distribution rights for a publishing "concern" the size of Pearson. But Rwanda is a land-locked speck on the African map, a speck of reluctant readers, so Lydie's plan C is selling electricity. I have no idea how this works but I intend to find out.
Another thing Lydie did while business was bad was have two children. Efficient! They are 2 and 1 years of age and I'm waiting to hear how she will manage being away from them for over a week in August when she comes to the state for the mentor-ship. Probably the best thing about the mentorship for Lydie will be the chance to sleep in. (As long as she isn't kept up at night worrying about a hopelessly simple and slightly neurotic bulldog.)
In the meantime, I am looking for a sponsor to underwrite my part of Lydie's visit to St. Louis. I need about $1500.00 to send me to Dallas for the summit conference that kicks off the Peace through Business program and also pay for Lydie's plane fare roundtrip Dallas-St. Louis. I'm exlporing some local options but if there is anyone out there reading this who knows of a good fit, let me know.
It's a bit odd to write about Lydie knowing she is following this blog. Lydie, I'm counting on you to set me straight if I get my facts wrong or get too personal. Feel free to use the comment portion of my blog to let my two and a half readers (including Jarek who doesn't have a choice) what you think.