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Lexington's International Book Project works to get displaced Ukrainians' books

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 12:06:08-04

LEXINGTON, Ky (LEX 18) — A non-profit in Lexington is looking to bring people joy across the world during their toughest times. The International Book Project has raised thousands of dollars allowing the organization to send thousands of books to Poland for displaced people in Ukraine.

The world showed its support for Ukraine by -- donating food, offering shelter, and more. Now, non-profit leaders are working to donate a way to ease minds and bring families back together through books.

Since 1966 the International Book Project, or IBP, has sent millions of books around the world. Now through the help of Polish native, Kasia Pater. They are working with other organizations and have raised more than $16,000 to send a 40-foot shipping container of books to Poland for displaced Ukrainians.

IBP Executive Director, Lisa Fryman, shares, "I thought this was a great way that we could do something to help."

In a statement from the International Book Project, Pater explains why this project is so vital:

“For me,” Kasia Pater says, “having both parents in Poland who had lived through WWII there as children, the stories seem too painfully familiar, despite our prior belief, it would never happen again. Children are the future of every nation and Lisa and I were passionate to ensure they receive books in Ukrainian, Polish, and English. Helping these children to stay calm while they are in Poland and be educated and entertained by reading books is one thing we can all do to make things a little easier. Sharing books with these children is like sharing the world from outside the war zone - showing them different cultures, different stories, and providing some measure of comfort. Of course, we all hope that Ukrainians everywhere will be able to return to their country, celebrate their identity, and that they all know that the world is committed to seeing this happen."

“These people have left with a suitcase and the clothes on their backs, and so a story transports you. We all know when you lose yourself in a book,” says Fryman.

Around 40,000 of those books are being shipped over to Poland by the end of the month.

IBP board member, Dabney Parker shares, "For folks that are moving into Poland, forced to move to Poland, and they see those welcoming gifts from across the world that has to help them feel better."

The Polish non-profit, Universal Reading Foundation is focused on bringing literacy to Poland. This foundation’s leaders say after World War II many of Poland’s libraries were destroyed. They say they didn't want Ukrainians to face the same literacy challenges the Polish did.

Universal Reading Foundation’s CEO Maria Deskur, explains, “It is also very important on a very personal and individual level because reading is a moment of sharing."

IBP’s partner Kentucky Refugee Ministry works with families from around the world. Leaders explain that books have helped people connect with the community.

Kentucky Refugee Ministry’s Melissa Coulston, says, "We know that education and literacy and English proficiency are huge ways that refugees become acclimated and integrated into our communities."

With such a large Ukrainian population in central Kentucky, these leaders say it’s that much easier for this community to put themselves in others' shoes.

Fryman explains, "So I think everyone in central Kentucky feels attached in that way -- but where ever you live, you see that could be me."

International Book Project leaders say they have shipped 8-million books to 168 countries. And now with rising costs, the cost of getting those books around the world is going up.

They say it’s not too late to donate books or funds for this shipment heading to Poland for the Ukrainians. They hope to raise more money to get books printed for Ukrainians in their language. You can check out International Book Project online for more information.