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After he left the school, John journeyed to Katmandu, Nepal, where he started e-mailing about 150 of his friends. "Here are all these villages that don't have libraries, that don't have books," he says. "And I thought, 'We can change that. But we have to act now.'"

With the help of his father, John began gathering more books than he ever dreamed possible. "We thought we'd collect 300, 400 books. Three thousand books rolled in, in the first month," he says. Soon thereafter, John kept his promise. He and his father returned to Nepal, loaded eight donkeys with books and visited schools to stock their libraries.

As John realized the scale of the problem, he began working on more book deliveries. And the reaction of the children in villages fueled his new mission. "These kids were just mobbing us. … As I take the books out of the backpack—it's like a mosh pit," he says. "It's like a literacy-palooza!"

Once the children received their books, John says they began to learn about places they'd never seen. As one little girl looked at a book about outer space, John realized she didn't even know that man had ever walked on the moon.
FROM: I Walked Away from Millions
Published on April 03, 2007