LIBRARIES FOR ALL: Books from West Seattle now on shelves in India

(Alina [seated] and Sheryl Guyon [right] with staff and children at New Vision’s preschool)

By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog

The red-light district in Kolkata, India, is a long way from home for Fauntleroy resident Alina Guyon but it’s where she and her mother, Sheryl Guyon, spent two weeks in April to create the second Libraries for All resource.

As reported here in August, Alina’s first venture was to plan, fund, ship, assemble, and stock a 200-sq. ft. library in an impoverished suburb of Kampala, Uganda, that has become a waystation for women and children fleeing violence in several African countries. With that one complete, she turned her attention to creating a safe learning place for the children of brothel workers in a different but equally challenging setting.

Using a grant from the Seattle-based All the Sky Foundation dedicated to gender equity, Alina collaborated with New Light, a non-profit working to break the cycle of prostitution by educating and housing scores of children and aiding their mothers. While there, Alina met with young children to broaden their understanding of the potential of girls and women.

New Light identified a space for the library, books were shipped, and travel plans made, only to have the space fall through and the container get held up in customs. As in Uganda where customs proved problematic, Alina and Sheryl had to do their best with what was at hand.

(Coloring pages designed by Washington artist Nina Hartman were the centerpiece of Alina’s lesson on gender equality)

They cleared a corner in one of the agency’s homes, put down a rug, installed shelves, and stocked them with 400 locally donated books in Bengali and English. Shortly after returning home, they learned the hundreds of books donated in West Seattle would soon be on the shelves, too.

Over the winter, Libraries for All became a non-profit through Visions Made Viable, an incubator for social visionaries and entrepreneurs. This alliance provides legal, fiscal, and administrative services so Alina can focus on the work itself.

Two awards recently recognized that work. In March, King County Red Cross gave Alina a Youth Spirit of Service award and, on May 3, Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation honored her with its Washington Youth Leadership Award.

Next up could be a project very close to home to enhance library resources at the Mary’s Place shelter in White Center. Visit to read more about these projects and subscribe to updates.

8 Replies to "LIBRARIES FOR ALL: Books from West Seattle now on shelves in India"

  • sc May 5, 2018 (4:00 pm)

    The more that you read, the more things you will know.

    The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. “

    – Dr Seuss

  • Mok4315 May 5, 2018 (9:18 pm)

    Wow, amazing work Alina!

  • Kristi May 6, 2018 (10:52 am)

    WOW, just WOW.  What a difference one determined person can make.  I am so very impressed and it gives me hope for the upcoming generation.  Thank you Alina for all you do for the less fortunate.

  • Bob May 7, 2018 (7:11 am)

    Are there no good causes in America?  Why go work in another county when you could be helping here?  Or am just selfish?

    • WSB May 7, 2018 (9:10 pm)

      It’s not zero-sum. But since you ask, Alina has been very active here at home too.

    • Sheryl Guyon May 7, 2018 (11:15 pm)

      A good question- Alina Volunteers between 100-200 hours per year to local causes, mostly to the homeless and organizations focused on educating youth.  The article also references the next Library, which is planned for a local shelter for homeless women and children.   

  • Sheryl Guyon May 7, 2018 (11:10 pm)

    Thank you all for your kind words and support!

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