Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cave Canem

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 (, 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.

Please note:
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.

1 comment:

Jackie Judd said...

Kris, a friend of mine is involved in an organization that, among other things, trains college-age kids and sends them off to places like Rwanda to plant seeds, literally and figuratively, for "global reconciliation." I'm going to ask him if he has any suggestions for resources for your project. I love it that you're doing this!