Socially Conscious Book Club (Week 3): Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

Posted by on June 4, 2009 in Book Club, Education, Featured, Videos - 13 Comments

The following is a guest post by Rehab Chougle, an engineer by profession and writer by choice. She resides in Mumbai, India and writes on topics within social entrepreneurship, politics and book reviews. Someday, Rehab hopes to publish a novel of her own.

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It is remarkable… the kind of passion one man can have, to get up in the morning, every single day and work towards building schools and libraries across the world.

John Wood decided to leave Microsoft to start Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to building libraries and in Nepal, India, Cambodia, Vietnam and many more.

A vacation in Nepal lead to a chance meeting with a local headmaster and a dilapidated school. The library was a sham. It made Wood ask the question which he answered through his work — ‘Why should somebody be denied the right to read because of the country one is born into?’

Room to Read was setup with passionate team members and continues to operate successfully in four countries. At last count, the organization has setup 5600 libraries and affected over 2 million children.

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World  details the setup of Room to Read.

For readers interested in social work and hardened souls who have forgotten that there is another side to the glam world, it’s an eye opener. Everything from the kind of funding required and the way fund raisers should be held is present in the book.

Wood faces the dilemma of leaving a cushy job to enter into a social startup with almost zero funding, fundraisers gone awry and so many illiterate children (approx. 100 million children as per UN statistics). At times you shed tears at the miracles this organization has accomplished and at times you wonder about the probability of failure.

The presence of Microsoft in the title and the writer’s life has had considerable impact on the book and the writer.

Although the author gives Microsoft’s hectic and capitalist schedules the ‘credit’ for his leaving the company, he makes up for it, midway, by praising bad boy ‘Ballmer’ and his methodical ways.

The book should be made compulsory in schools and colleges alike. Not only does it awaken the ignorant reader, it inspires the human mind to think on a global scale where education is a scarcity and indifference is in abundance.

Rehab Chougle, an engineer by profession and writer by choice. She resides in Mumbai, India and writes on topics within social entrepreneurship, politics and book reviews. Someday, Rehab hopes to publish a novel of her own.

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