Knoxville woman starts program to bring free books to kids in poorly educated areas

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. The shoe company Tom's made a name for itself by building a business model where shoes are given to a child in need when customers buy a pair for themselves. Now a local woman is taking a similar approach to educating children around the world.

Sitting down with Hannah Giacalone it's easy to see she loves to serve other people.

"We lived without water or electricity most of the time," she recalls.

Most recently she made a trip to Ghana to teach at an orphanage.

"I didn't really go with a tourist group. I just went and lived in a village, and I worked in a school, and in an orphanage. I got to have a really unique cultural experience," says Hannah.

There she made new friends.

"This little boy was deaf actually which is really cool because I know sign language," says Hannah.

She also met Kellie Addison.

"My best friend's from New Zealand actually. We would have never met had we not both been there at the same time."

Together they came up with an idea.

"Seeing kids that have so much potential, and are so smart and want to learn and just don't have the resources to do it. I saw kids in the orphanage that would just devour the books we had," says Hannah.

The Maafia project was born. A venture to create children's books about kids in different countries. With each book bought; one will be given to a child living without access to a good education.

"The thought is that not only does it promote literacy with kids all around the world that don't have access to it. It also promotes cultural awareness," she says.

While Hannah has two books written, one takes place in New York, one takes place in New Zealand, She's got big plans for the Maafia Project as she looks to expand across the world.

"In general they will go to kids in any country. They could go to kids in America that don't have a strong education system that they have access to," says Hannah.

The first round of books will go to three orphanages in Mumbasa, Kenya one day those books may come with some East Tennessee influence.

For now Hannah will focus on raising money to launch the first round of books, to be bought and given away.

"I think that a lot of kids around Africa are smart and want to learn and just don't have the opportunity. I want to give that to them," says Hannah.

Hannah currently has an Indiegogo account to raise money for the first round of books. To help Hannah reach her goal click on the link to the right.