Monday, September 19, 2016

Helping others while helping myself

Riley Banks-Snyder became interested in Kenya as a young teenager. She had an aunt and uncle who were volunteering and doing mission work there, and she convinced her parents to allow her to visit them.  That life-changing event and how it inspired her to work to help the children of Kenya forms the basis of Riley Unlikely.

After witnessing the poverty in Kenya, particularly the lack of school supplies, Riley comes home and attempts to get stores to donate items she can take on her next trip to Kenya.  She soon finds out that few businesses will donate unless it is to a non-profit organization. An accountant friend helps her file the paperwork to start Generation Next, a non-profit with a 501(c)3 number that allows her to collect donations. After discovering she has a medical condition that means she can't have children, she became determined to build an orphanage in Kenya and worked toward achieving that goal.

I appreciate the desire to help people that motivated the author to get involved, but throughout most of the book she comes off as a rather spoiled and pampered girl who "helps" by collecting consumable items (pencils, sanitary napkins, travel sized toothpaste tubes) that she can fit in a suitcase for her yearly visits and distribute to amazed and grateful people.  While the need is great and I'm sure it makes her feel good to do such things, it all seems rather pointless, in the grand scheme of things.  She did gather sponsors in the US to provide money to finish a small school that was left uncompleted after the death of a previous missionary, but she made sure her name was painted outside it (because, let's face it, it's all about her).  Back in her hometown, a local thrift shop owner got tired of running the business and donated the building and inventory to Generation Next to use as a fundraising arm.  Guess what the store is called?  Riley's Treasures -- I KNOW!  Who would have thought she would name the store AFTER HERSELF?  And then there's the story about how she selflessly goes on a trip to Israel, so she can learn about the Holy Land and tell her impoverished Kenyan friends about it on her next visit since "they would most likely never have reason to travel out of their own villages."  What a gal!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Riley Unlikely from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review

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