Inspiration to help comes from many different places and for documentary producer Kari Grady Grossman the inspiration came from a child.
After Grossman and her husband George adopted a baby from Cambodia six years ago they were exposed to the terrible conditions the country has been facing since the Vietnam War, the couple did an incredible amount of research on what they could do to help.
Grossman, who is also a writer and photographer, spoke in the CSU bookstore Thursday evening to promote her soon to be released book, “Bones that Float.” The book focuses on efforts to improve a crippled Cambodian village.
“We were inspired to give back and help the country out of a very difficult situation,” Grossman said.
The couple discovered that schools had been destroyed and numerous teachers had been murdered by the Khmer Rouge Regime, which rose out of the conflicts from the war. After seeing the destruction, the couple decided to build a school to be shared by five villages in the Cardamom Mountains could require up to $15,700.
The Grossmans teamed up with the American Assistance for Cambodia, a non-profit organization, and were able to raise the money by selling pictures over the internet. They donated the money in the name of their newly adopted son.
“We figured we would donate the money and get on with our lives,” she said.
What they didn’t know was that the people of the village needed more than just a school; they also needed help with the education process. After the war, more than 70 percent of the country remained illiterate and 50 percent of kids don’t make it past a third grade education.
Because the teachers make less than $20 a month, they couldn’t afford to come back and forth to the school. The Grossmans’ new task was to raise money for supplies and housing for the teachers, along with a monthly food stipend.
Some of the things they donated were play dough, art supplies and puzzles.
“It gives the children an opportunity to think,” said Grossman.
Grossman, who in the past was an online writer for the Discovery Channel and a graduate of Syracuse University, currently resides in Lander, Wyoming with her family.
The book’s main release date is set for April 17, which marks the 32nd anniversary of the invasion of Cambodia. Grossman wrote the book initially to promote awareness of the current conditions but also as another way of raising money. “Bones that Float” is available at the CSU bookstore for $24.95 and 25 percent of the proceeds go to future projects not yet scheduled in Cambodia.