Alba Estrada is the director of the program which takes place in the village library. Alba was born and raised in the indigenous community of Quiche which is not far from the famed Chichicastenango market for those of you who have been to Guatemala. Alba's family is not indigenous and she reports that she was only accepted by the indigenous population when she started working in the Riecken library. Quiche is an area where there was a lot of violence during Guatemala's 36-year civil war and the wounds are healing very slowly. If you haven't seen Alba talk about the early childhood program I would encourage you to click on the link below to watch our video. The mothers in the community were initially reluctant to participate in the early childhood program most likely because most of them are illiterate and lacking in self-esteem. Now the program is so over subscribed (and by demand including a lot of information on nutrition) that Alba is searching for funding for a second floor for her library. Currently, when the early childhood program is in session the little library has to be closed and all the furniture moved around. We also invite you to click on the interview link and listen to a 2007 interview with the founder of the Riecken network, Allen Andersson. Please help us to report to Alba that we have full funding for her project. Muchas gracias.
During the month of April several Rotarians from the Reno Rotary Club visited our pilot early childhood development project in Quiche, Guatemala. They also delivered a number of supplies for the program. The small library was crammed with mothers and children. Personnel from the local health center came to do a presentation on vegetables to the mothers while Alba Estrada, the director, read a story to the children involving vegetables. Several children dressed as vegetables did a presentation for all present. Alba asked the mothers to discuss what the program meant to them and one mother spoke very passionately about the difference in her daughter since they have been attending the early childhood development program. She indicated that her daughter talked more and asked more questions and that she felt that she was a much better mother because of the things she had learned.
While we have recently received a grant (see link below) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen our network of libraries we need your help to continue and expand this program to our other libraries. No donation is too small to be appreciated. A few dollars is very useful in Central America. Muchas gracias.
Did you know that universal primary education is one of the Millienium Development Goals? The goal is for every child to have at least a primary education. Early childhood development including teaching sounds, vowels, shapes, numbers and creating a love for reading with story hours, all of which prepares children for success in school. In addition, in our program the parents also learn valuable nutritional information. Try to imagine what ignorance feels like. What if you could not read? How would you learn what was best for your children? Many of the mums in our program are in that situation. They simply do not know that their children need a balanced diet including protein to reach their potential.
We have just launched a second year of our pilot program in the Chiche, Guatemala Riecken library. Thanks go to the Reno Rotary Club (Nevada, USA) which has provided funding for a second year and because of their generosity we are able to double the number of sessions to meet the demand. As mentioned in previous reports other organizations are getting involved. The children are being weighed and measured and the parents are given a card to keep track of their child's progress. While the families were initially reluctant now there is great demand for giving children the best possible start. When this program is fully funded we plan to expand to other libraries. You can help us to accomplish that goal. We thank you in advance for your help.
Alba Estrada is the library director in Chiche, Guatemala. It is Alba who each week is running the pilot program for early childhood development and nutrition. With your help we can extend this program to many more of our 64 libraries in Central America. Please click on this link to watch Alba talk about her work with mothers and children in her community. Mothers who are unable to read are learning along with their children. They are learning that children need to have proper nutrition in order to learn. The word is spreading and each week more mothers (and even one father) are showing up to learn with their children. A nearby university student is coming to weigh the children. Each parent is given a card with which to chart their childrens' progress.
During this month one mother with two children has joined the group plus five more small children that are attending it on their own. The children have been very active and curious about the activities and games that are part of the pre-reading techniques. Thanks to your kind donations the children’s corner at the library has now more educational materials, games and small chairs and tables. The mothers are very enthusiastic to see their children start to pronounce the vowels, the letters and to recognize their shape. Some of these mothers don’t know how to read and write themselves. Also they are learning about hygiene practices to prepare food and their proper storage.
We have new important partners to make this program more efficient and measurable. They are a coordinator from the local health center who talked about nutrition in the last session and registered the weight and height of the attending children; and a student from the Rafael Landivar University who is evaluating the program and developing tools to measure the program’s impact in the children’s learning process.
As this program is becoming more popular in the town of Chiche, more mothers and children are joining it. We need your support to attend them all and make sure that they have a healthy head start in their education process and eventually become successful citizens.
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