Bibliotecas Escolares (Village School Libraries)
The first time we visited schools in remote northwest Guatemala (2001), it was painfully evident that the students and teachers had no access to books. In many cases, there were no printed materials whatsoever in the classrooms. When one teacher was asked how he could teach reading with no printed material, he replied, “We do the best we can.” While we could not save the world, we COULD do something to improve this situation, and the Village Textbook and Library Project was born.
It started out with providing textbooks and library materials for 20 remote village primary schools and has evolved to include middle schools as well. The teachers themselves make a list of what topics and textbooks are needed, and those lists are fulfilled as closely as possible by educational specialists in a large bookstore in Guatemala City. To date, we have put over 30 school library collections in classrooms. The villagers are responsible for ensuring that there is an appropriate place to store the books, and the children are taught how to respect and care for books.
From feedback received from classroom teachers, the children have eagerly embraced the books and are hungry for the knowledge found in them. They use the books for making reports, investigating topics, and reading for fun. An unanticipated benefit is that the children are reading aloud to their younger siblings (and in many cases, their parents) at home. This is a win-win for everyone!
Hope For The Future
We are always open to requests for school libraries. Solicitudes from teachers are received and reviewed by the Project Committee, and a recommendation is given to the Board of Directors whether or not to support the request. When a solicitud is approved, we immediately start looking for a grant to support the project. Casa Colibri is committed to Literacy and Education, and books are fundamental to that commitment. Besides being able to learn so many things from books, they are also a source of joy for the students. Books take them into the unique world of imagination and improve their standard of living. They help to inspire students to do hard work with courage and hope. They also enrich the experience of students and sharpen their intellect.