The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc.

We offer Central Americans hope and the opportunity to overcome poverty by promoting democracy and prosperity through community libraries that spark a spirit of discovery and foster citizen participation.
Sep 20, 2011

Even one father is now coming to learn

This program, which began in June of this year, is carried out weekly every Thursday at 3PM for over an hour and a half. Approximately 15-20 mothers are now participating in each session (up from 4-5).  One father is participating, which is considered an achievement in the context of Guatemala’s highly chauvinistic society.  Participating children are between the age of 8 months to 5 years old.  One child, 11 years old with special needs, has begun participating with his mother; another learned lesson for the library.  Each session includes a small educational talk on one or more of the pre-literacy techniques, plus activities, games, even songs, and now hands-on preparation of nutritional, appropriate, affordable foods.  In order to develop the nutritional component of the program, Riecken staff has researched multiple sources and is receiving hands-on training from the Institute for Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP).  One of the biggest challenges for this library is one of space as other would be users have to be asked to come at another time.  Conversations are being had with US Rotary Clubs and institutions to find funding for a second floor for this library.


Jul 28, 2011

Youngest reader ever in her village

Elena is reading at age four in Guatemala
Elena is reading at age four in Guatemala

Elena is 4 and lives in a wholly indigenous village in rural Guatemala. Xolsacmalja, Totonicapan. Elena was two when the Riecken library opened in the village and she has visited every day since its opening as her aunt is the president of the board who oversees the library. Because of the various library programs Elena (who is bi-lingual speaking both Quiche and Spanish) is now starting to read at age 4 and is the youngest known reader in her village. At a result it is highly likely that Elena will gain some of the advantages of a pre-school program in the developed world assuring her educational success and giving her opportunities that did not exist even one generation before.

Elena likes the iPad too.
Elena likes the iPad too.


Feb 18, 2011

Great impact in girls in San Carlos Sija


Juliana is a six year old girl who belongs to the K’iche’ ethnic group and whose life has been positively impacted by the library in San Carlos Sija, Quetzaltenango.  Her parents are farmers and sell their products in the local market, where they spend most of the daytime.  While her parents are working she spends time at the Library, sometimes throughout the day, where she can be comfortable and participate in a variety of different children’s activities.  Only on rare occasions can she not be found at the Library, usually when she is helping out her parents with farming tasks or house chores.  But when she is at the Library, Juliana expresses that she is happy; she participates proactively on her own will, and enjoys children’s books a lot!

The community Library is called “Fuente de sabiduría”, which means “Fountain of wisdom” and a high percentage of women, including small girls, teenagers and adults attend daily.  A girl’s book club has been formed at the Library aiming to improve their reading and writing skills, their ability to talk in public and to listen, and to develop their critical thinking.  Besides the regularly scheduled reading programs, they participate in activities that promote the conservation of local traditions, such as traditional weaving or the cooking of unique local foods using fresh and nutritive ingredients.

All these activities programmed through the Library allows the community, especially girls, to become more informed and engaged in subjects like personal hygiene, children’s rights, values and principles, cultural identity, and others which are important for personal development.  Thank you for believing in our project and supporting girls like Juliana, whom, without the Library, would have less chances of a brighter future.


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