Progress continues on the school library despite setbacks created by tropical storm Agatha. Tropical storm Agatha, which devastated Guatemala, caused the evacuation of the entire neighborhood of Panabaj, where the school library is being installed. When the storm cleared it was evident that a lot of clean-up was necessary in the community of Panabaj, and the library building was not an exception. A wall in the back of the building fell and the basketball court in the front of the school has been completely filled with mud. Luckily, the library in the second floor and was unaffected by the storm.
Just two days after the storm carpenters were hard at work installing the book shelves in the library. The structure of the library is coming together now that the walls are painted, bookshelves are installed, and there are two large work tables for the children to use. Next on the list of things to do is the selection of books that will make up the library.
We are excited about the progress being made at the library. We look forward to when the doors open and the students can benefit from greater access to books and reading.
The past week the library has been receiving a make-over with a fresh coat of paint. The school community got involved and lent their help to make this transformation a possibility. Teachers, students, and even the principal rolled up their sleeves and grabbed a paintbrush. After a morning of setup, during which the teachers assembled scaffolding and mixed paint, the work was ready to begin. The teachers and students climbed on scaffolding to reach the highest sections of the walls and by the end of the first day three of the walls were completed. Groups of teachers and students returned two additional days to complete the painting. The space has already begun to brighten up thanks to the new colorful walls. A transformation has truly begun in the library and we all cannot wait to see the finished product!
In February, six GlobalGiving donors traveled to Guatemala for a week of exploration, cultural submersion, and welcomed visits to four GlobalGiving projects.
One of these projects was Pueblo a Pueblo where they are building a library/reading room at a school damaged by Hurricane Stan and induced landslides. Here’s one account of the group’s visit:
“Over to Lake Atitlan which is stunning if not infected with cyanobacteria and used as a dump for pretty much everything dumpable. Pueblo a Pueblo is a smaller operation focused on helping indigenous families whose village was destroyed in the mudslides of 2005. They're building a library for the school and just started a large organic garden to supplement the healthy lunch program where a different town mother cooks lunch for all of the school children each day.
One of the largest problems in Guatemala is the malnutrition. Ironically farmers whose livelihood is growing fruit and vegetables are better off selling it since it brings in more money, so they subsist off of very little food and not nearly so nutritious - primarily corn. They also have two sponsorship programs both of which are 300$/year - one to support one child throughout the school year to provide them with supplies and to support their classroom and teachers. The other is a maternal program for pre and post natal care and nutrition through the first 5 years of the child's life. 10% of children in Guatemala die before the age of 5. TEN percent. That's nearly incomprehensible.”
If you want to visit Pueblo a Pueblo’s project page click here: www.globalgiving.org/3666
And just if you’re curious about the rest of the trip and where they were headed after Pueblo a Pueblo:
“Almost every day in Guatemala brought us to projects which are doing important work for the people of Guatemala. This is a country devastated by decades of war, which suffers all of the consequences of crushing poverty, especially in the rural areas. Although I often felt disheartened to learn of the high rates of child malnutrition and low rates of education, projects like WINGS, which promotes family planning through education and improving women's health; the vocational school being built from recycled tires and plastic bottles by Long Way Home; and the community-run lending libraries facilitated by the Riecken Foundation, were terrifically uplifting. We repeatedly met enthusiastic people committed to doing good for the poor of Guatemala in culturally sensitive ways, which was the perfect antidote to the feeling of sadness or hopelessness that comes from hearing bleak statistics and seeing people living with so little.”
To check out the other visited projects go to:
The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation – www.globalgiving.org/3339
WINGS – www.globalgiving.org/2394
Long Way Home – www.globalgiving.org/2402
In this poor region of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, where even books are of great value to thieves, a local blacksmith recently installed metal bars to the windows and doors of the school library, making the Panabaj School Library safe for the library’s belongings and its visitors. The next step in the renovation of the school library was the set up of electricity. Panabaj Elementary was fortunate to have one of its own teachers volunteer his previous electrical engineering experience in assisting in the electrical wiring of the library. Very soon, they library will be ready for painting and furnishing; allowing for a pleasant and safe place for its students to study and read.
The School Library Coordinator Johanny Queiju (pictured on the right with President of Pueblo a Pueblo Kristen Van Zandt) is currently overseeing the school library project. She works closely with a committee of students, parents, and teachers of the Panabaj Elementary School to ensure that the community is actively engaged in the planning process of their school library.
Recently, the Board of Directors made a visit to the site to observe its progress and was encouraged by the enthusiastic number of volunteers and staff who have not only been working hard on the project but also promoting Pueblo a Pueblo’s mission statement and vision for the future of the Guatemalan community.
In January of this year, Pueblo a Pueblo launched the Panabaj school library program, so that school children will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge through various books and have access to a wealth of information that may work to improve their education and literacy.
We started working together with the library committee consisting of several Panabaj School teachers, first presented to the Program Coordinator, Johanny, who has been supporting teachers in the process.
We have advanced in the following topics;
1. Security in the space where the library will be. A local blacksmith is preparing bars for door and windows that will serve to have a safe library in the school. Look at how it works in the photos!
2. Electricity. The library site is lacking electrical cables and thus, the teachers think that it is essential to fix the wiring as soon as possible.
3. Painting. It is important to have a nice place where children can feel good and in a happy ambiance. Once the library is painted we will decide what furniture will be most suitable for the space.
We are excited! The blacksmith will be doing the installation of the bars on Wednesday 17th.
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