TULSA, Okla. — Christopher Flippo was only seven years old when he first helped deliver 9,000 books to school kids in Uganda.
Now at 17, he went back to deliver 11,000 more books. The trip to establish and stock two libraries was years in the making for Flippo, his parents, uncle, best friend Turner Powell, and Turner's mother Stephanie Powell.
"She wanted to help improve the situation and be there for the kids," Flippo said. "She's also a librarian."
They traveled in a giant bus, precariously positioned between stacks of boxes delivering books and supplies to Kobbs High School 10 minutes outside of Jinja and an elementary school two hours further away.
"We needed something big and heavy just to get all the books there as well as the supplies," Flippo said.
It was a treacherous journey involving three tons of supplies and poorly maintained roads.
"The difficulty was the potholes the size of a car."
However, they had a job to do and limited materials to use.
"The shelving we put together for the library was really some high dollar stuff," Flippo jokingly said.
"It was just boards and stones."
He says the kids were so excited they carried the books from the bus to the school and painted the shelves of their brand new library. They excitedly waited for the moment the door would open.
"About 50 high school students flooded a 20-by-20 foot room," Flippo said. "They swarmed in, and all of them brought a book out and we started reading outside."
It's that excitement about education that prompted the headmaster of the high school, Benson, to build a dormitory and furnish it with his own money.
"Some of the kids to get to that school, they have to walk several miles," Flippo said. "Some of them are orphans and sometimes they have to stay there overnight."
Flippo says life on the streets or in the fields can be dangerous at night.
"You don't want these kids to have any sort of bad situation that would put them in danger."
When asked if there was a particular student whose reaction made the work all worthwhile, Flippo said there was a moment involving a child named Dennis. "He was a short little guy and he wasn't just going through the book looking for pictures, he legitimately started reading the first page."
In all, this Union High School Senior spent nine days in Uganda changing lives with his non-profit group "Open The World With A Book."
He's not stopping there. He's already making plans to deliver even more books to other kids hungry to learn.
"The program is wanting to help other places like Ecuador for example or Venezuela."