Why, when all has literally been lost for so many because of last year's devastating earthquake, has a Lexington woman made it her mission to bring Haitian children 1,000 books about God in their native Creole tongue?
"What can you do for someone who has literally had everything taken away?" says author Tina Bryson.
Bryson thinks her book, 10 Things Every Kid Should Know About God (Leeway Artisans, $10.95), is a guide to building a relationship with the Lord that will help remind Haitian kids "that even when all these terrible things are happening, God does see you," she says.
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"Faith can do a lot of things," says Gueber Lamour, a volunteer translator on the book. "It can make people believe in themselves and believe in a vision for the future." He was drawn to the educational aspect of the book as well as the religious. If you help teach a child to understand his or her faith, Lamour says, "you give them the opportunity to see the possibilities in life."
Bryson's previous work with a youth pastor at Consolidated Baptist Church inspired her to write the book. She says she worked with a lot of young people who were eager to make commitments to God, especially public proclamations of their faith. But, she says, she saw that those same kids often didn't understand that a commitment to God was part of an ongoing relationship that requires work.
Mykle Lee, president of the Leeway Artisans, the Christian publishing house that put out the book, says there is a need for all kinds of inspirational books geared for the target audience of Bryson's book, ages 8 to 12.
"There aren't many Christian devotional books tailored to that age group," he says. He was also inspired by the spirit Bryson brought to the work.
The work, he says, helps take the idea of a relationship between kids and God out of the realm of a "fairy tale that they just don't understand."
Although Bryson had written a book about grief, 2004's Perfect in Weakness (Pleasant Word, $17.99), she took a class on "how to write a book in 10 days" at the Lexington Public Library before starting on her current project. The mother of four had much of the book laid out in her head and often wrote after she had put the children to bed.
She finished in six days.
Now the English version is available at Joseph-Beth Booksellers and at Amazon.com.
A conversation last year with a friend from Haiti inspired her to try to get the book translated. Soon Lamour and several other translators volunteered to help.
There were some challenges in the translation, Lamour says. Bryson mined her own life for anecdotes, using tales of birthday parties, soccer games and other touchstones of everyday American life to help make her lessons relatable to her young audience. But, Lamour said, some of those ideas were hard to reconfigure in a way that Haitian children could understand easily.
Collectively, he says, he and the other translators worked out the best way to explain, say, Chuck E. Cheese to the Haitian reader.
Publisher Lee has donated the books at cost, and Bryson is spearheading an effort to get enough money to donate 1,000 books to children in a Haitian orphanage.
Fund-raising began in earnest in October, and she hopes to have enough money by the year's end.
Bryson says marketing and fund-raising have become pretty much a full-time job. But, as you might expect, she has faith.
"We have a long way to go, but I'm still trusting God that we can do many more than 1,000 books."
Lee says the translation effort might be the first of many. He has received requests to translate Bryson's book into Portuguese and Spanish.