HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We hear some music from Madeleine Peyroux …
Answer a question from a listener about Reader’s Digest …
And report about a program for children called the Fresh Air Fund.
Fresh Air Fund
An organization in New York City helps children enjoy a very special summer holiday. Faith Lapidus tells us more about the Fresh Air Fund.
FAITH LAPIDUS: Three summers ago, a young boy named Robert found a special second home. Robert is from the Harlem area of New York City. He traveled away from the city to live with the Lober family in New York State. He spent the summer playing with other children, swimming and sailing a boat. Robert continues to visit the Lobers. They consider him to be a part of their family.
This special visit was made possible by an organization called the Fresh Air Fund. It was started in eighteen seventy-seven. At that time, New York City was having a problem with the disease tuberculosis. Many children lived in crowded apartments, which made the disease spread faster. Getting these children “fresh air” in the country was seen as a solution for this problem.
Today, the Fresh Air Fund still helps children from low-income communities in New York experience life in the country with a host family. These children enjoy a free holiday and take part in activities they would not normally experience in the city. More than sixty-five percent of children who visit a host family are invited back the next year. The children and families often make lasting friendships.
The Fresh Air Fund has other programs as well. It has several summer camps north of New York City. At these camps, children can enjoy outdoor activities, art and computer programs. Some camps are for boys and others are for girls. One camp is for children with special needs. Here, kids who are sick or have physical problems can experience fun activities. Another program helps prepare young adults for their educational and professional future.
Since it began, the Fresh Air Fund has provided free summer holidays to more than one million seven hundred thousand children from low-income communities.
More than ten thousand New York City children enjoy Fresh Air Fund programs every year.
HOST: Our VOA listener question comes from Myanmar, also known as Burma. Ko Maw Gyi asks about the magazine, Reader’s Digest.
Reader’s Digest was the idea of an American, Dewitt Wallace. He never finished college, but he loved to read. He believed the right kind of publication could satisfy peoples’ desire for knowledge. He and his wife, Lila, produced the first Reader’s Digest magazine in February, nineteen twenty-two.
Reader’s Digest was different from other publications of the time. It was small in size. It did not contain fictional stories or pictures. It had helpful reports about life. It included true stories Dewitt Wallace found in other publications. Often the stories were about how a person succeeded in a difficult situation. One goal of the magazine was to help new immigrants learn how to become American citizens.
Mister Wallace shortened the stories because he realized people did not have a great deal of time for reading.
In September, nineteen twenty-two, the Wallaces moved to Pleasantville, New York. They continued publishing the magazine. By the end of the first year, they were sending the magazine to seven thousand people. The number of people buying the magazine every month increased each year.
Today, forty-one million copies of the Reader’s Digest are sold around the world each month. The magazine reaches forty-eight countries and is published in nineteen languages.
Last month, there was a big party in New York City to celebrate the one thousandth issue of Reader’s Digest. The magazine has changed some since its first issues. Now, most stories are new and some are much longer. The magazine has added a team of investigative reporters. They report about serious subjects including abortion and the right to die.
Dewitt and Lila Wallace died in the nineteen eighties. The publication they created is the best selling magazine in the world. And, its headquarters are still at their former home in Pleasantville, New York.
You can see the one thousandth issue of Reader’s Digest at its Web site www.rd.com.
American singer Madeleine Peyroux (pronounced peru) performs popular old jazz, blues and country music songs. Barbara Klein tells us more about this special singer.
BARBARA KLEIN: Madeleine Peyroux’s voice sounds like it belongs to another time period. Her rich and emotion-filled voice is similar to that of famous blues singer Billie Holliday. Peyroux sings many famous jazz and blues songs from the nineteen thirties and forties. She also brings a blues sound to old country songs. And she wrote some of the songs on her two albums.
Here she sings a song from her first album, “Dreamland”. The song is called “Getting Some Fun Out of Life.” It was first made famous by Billie Holliday in nineteen thirty-seven.
Madeleine Peyroux also sings more modern songs. Here is “Dance Me to the End of Love” from her second album called “Careless Love.” This song was written and recorded by Leonard Cohen in the nineteen eighties. Peyroux’s version is very different.
Madeleine Peyroux even sings some songs in French. She is American, but spent part of her childhood in Paris. As an adult, she spent a lot of time playing music in the streets of that city. Here she sings a song made famous by the American singer Josephine Baker during World War Two. We leave you now with the song “J’ai Deux Amours,” or “I Have Two Loves.”
HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
This show was written by Lawan Davis and Dana Demange. Caty Weaver and Dana Demange were our producers.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.