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.
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.

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Feb 18, 2011

Great impact in girls in San Carlos Sija

Juliana
Juliana

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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Oct 18, 2010

Successful alliance with local girl´s school

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One of the communities in the library network, named “Nuevo Amanecer”, which means “New Sunrise”, located in Cabricán, Quetzaltenango, has created an alliance with a local school called La Asunción that serves more than 100 indigenous girls.  This alliance consists in supporting the school in activities that enhance the participation of these girls in socio-cultural activities, as well as those that improve their Spanish vocabulary, without disregarding their native language, which is Mam.  These activities at the community library include interactive story reading hours, artistic contests in their native language, workshops about Mayan epigraphy and book clubs.

Through this program these young girls have the chance to become more involved in their community, while they develop their reading habit and writing skills.  This has also helped them to understand better the use of computers.

Like Apsin Lineth López, a 12 years old girl, said “ever since I started coming to the library I have read books about tales and stories, history, and this has helped me with my studies and with my teachers.  It has also helped me improve my writing and the computer use.  I have always liked to come to the library because I like to learn new things, to see new books and other things, thank you”.

While the community library keeps attracting more children to visit and improve their education, we are trying to find ways to have a more stable internet connection and more computers to attend the increasing number of children and teenagers looking for our support.  Thanks a lot for yours! 

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