A TEEN’S TAKE: Thomas Campbell on taking books to Africa

Photo provided by Runnels SchoolThomas Campbell, right, and Runnels Elementary Librarian Joni Orgeron box gently used books previously donated to Runnels School for Campbell to take on a family trip to Africa. Campbell delivered the books to an elementary school for Masai children in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area of Tanzania.
Photo provided by Runnels SchoolThomas Campbell, right, and Runnels Elementary Librarian Joni Orgeron box gently used books previously donated to Runnels School for Campbell to take on a family trip to Africa. Campbell delivered the books to an elementary school for Masai children in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area of Tanzania.

“Usually other kids don’t get a chance to do this, to go to Africa to help people. It makes you feel good to know you have done something for other people.”

Age: 13.

School: Runnels School, eighth-grade

Parents: Thomas and Annalee Campbell.

FAVORITES:

Book: “Stormbreaker” by Anthony Horowitz.

TV show: None

Movie : “Despicable Me.”

Music : Rock and hip hop

Hangout : BREC’s Skate Park at Perkins Road Community Park and movies.

Role model : Extreme sports legend Travis Pastrana. “I like his quote, ‘What you see is what you get.’ He doesn’t pretend to be something he is not, and neither do I.”

Extra : This past summer he, his parents and his sister traveled to Africa. Prior to the trip, Thomas worked with Runnels Elementary Librarian Joni Orgeron to collect 50 pounds of gently used children’s books that had been donated to the Runnels library for last year’s spring book sale. Thomas delivered the books to the Mysigio Primary School for Masai children in the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area of Tanzania. The school, which had only 20 books, serves 600 students in six classrooms with no electricity, running water or desks. “They barely have anything like we have. I don’t know how they learn, but I can tell it’s very hard.” To protect the books, Thomas carried the boxes himself once the family arrived in Africa. “The teachers had to hold the students back from opening the boxes right away,” said Thomas, who also arranged for his local soccer team, the St. Michael’s girls soccer program and the Baton Rouge Soccer Association to donate soccer uniforms, balls and pumps. The Campbell family also donated 50 pounds of school supplies.

The experience made Thomas realize how ungrateful American kids can be. “Some kids sometimes don’t appreciate what they already have,” he said.

Carol Anne Blitzer

Advocate staff writer