Reading Village

Reading Village empowers youth to eradicate illiteracy and lead their communities out of poverty.
Feb 15, 2016

A Note of Love and Light

Smiley Lydia
Smiley Lydia

Having just returned from my first trip to Guatemala to meet some of the participants of our Leaders & Readers Program and join them for this year's opening ceremonies, I find myself with a heart full of joy. What an inspirational group of youth! Outspoken and curious Lydia in Chuiquel is entering her second year in the program.  She grins with excitement as she talks about working with the younger children again this year by providing literacy activities. Lydia, like so many other youth leaders, knows that this is important and special work and feels genuinely honored to do it. Transforming lives through literacy isn’t something anyone in this group of dedicated teens takes lightly.

At the start of each new year, Reading Village youth leaders gather in their communities for a special opening ceremony called the Ceremony of Light. From the flowers, to the candles, to the traditional cloth beneath it all, there is meaning behind every part of the ceremony. The ceremony begins with the groups talking of unity, about how we are all human beings; and, therefore, while we are each unique, we are all connected. And then each person in the circle individually steps into the middle to light their candles, to share how that symbolic “light of literacy” inspires them, and to make a commitment to bring their unique abilities to the group for the year. Some words that echoed often in these commitments were love, respect, trust, support, patience, and peace.

Witnessing Lydia and her fellow youth leaders make their commitments was truly an honor. Love, community and passion filled the circle. These teens are strong, hardworking and determined. And, perhaps most importantly, they are dedicated not only to their own futures, but also to the futures of their communities.

I hope these photos from my trip bring some joy to your heart.

Thank you for the love you bring into the world,

Marcella

PS: It's not too late to get registered for this April's Learning Journey trip (April 7-14). Join us for this unique deep dive into Mayan culture and for the special opportunity to meet the youth leaders who are working hard to eradicate illiteracy and move their communities out of poverty. Contact me at marcella@readingvillage.org if you'd like any additional details.

Ceremony of Light Circle
Ceremony of Light Circle
Lighting a candle and making a promise
Lighting a candle and making a promise
Light shining in on the ceremony
Light shining in on the ceremony
Lydia, Marcella and Sandra
Lydia, Marcella and Sandra
Nov 20, 2015

You Can Help Us Grow in 2016

Youth Leader Leading Literacy Activities
Youth Leader Leading Literacy Activities

Dear World Changer,

This past year has been an exciting time of growth for Reading Village. We’ve worked with more than 50 youth leaders across several rural communities in Guatemala and together they’ve reached thousands of young children with innovative literacy programs. As the Guatemalan school year gets underway in January, we’re eager to reach even more youth. Here’s how you can help:

Join Our Two Million Two Many Campaign this December

Across Guatemala there are two million youth who can’t afford to be in school. That’s two million youth without basic skills to compete in the workforce; two million youth limited to a lifetime of hard physical labor; two million youth stuck in a cycle of perpetual poverty. We believe that is two million too many.

This holiday season give the gift of literacy and education. Join our Two Million Too Many matching campaign to ensure that 68 indigenous teenagers and the 3,400 children they read to have the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. Thanks to the generosity and support of Susan and Richard Anderson, 100% of all contributions this December will be matched dollar for dollar (up to a total of $25,000). Every single donation will prepare youth to defy these odds.

Mark your calendars to give between December 1-31, 2015 to qualify for a 100% match.

Join Us on a Learning Journey to Guatemala next April

For eight days you can join a small group of mindful travelers to visit the communities where we work, meet our youth leaders and their families, and witness the transformation in rural Guatemalan towns.

We cannot thank you enough for your commitment to this work. You stand among a thoughtful group of individuals from around the world who are passionate about ending poverty through literacy and education. We’re so glad to have you join us on this journey.  

Sincerely, 

Linda Smith, Founder & Executive Director

Learning Journey Participant in Guatemalan
Learning Journey Participant in Guatemalan
Aug 28, 2015

The Virtuous Cycle of Literacy

The Cycle of Literacy
The Cycle of Literacy

Reading Village has been partnering with the community of Concepcion now for almost 7 years. This means that children who were read to by our youth reading promoters back in 2009 are now old enough to be reading promoters themselves! We are excited about this new phase of our development where our youth leaders will begin the program with a strong love of reading and be better readers, already familiar with what reading activities look like.

Julio was one of the original 6 youth leaders in our program in Concepcion in 2009. His younger brother Byron is now participating in the selection process to enter the program in 2016. When asked why he wanted to join the program, Byron said, “My older brother Julio brought books home to read to me, and I would ask him to read to me all the time. The reading promoters in my classrooms made reading fun. I want to make reading fun for the younger children and help them have better vocabularies.” Byron has grasped the fundamental core of our work. A love of reading leads to reading more - reading more leads to reading better - reading better leads to liking it more and reading more. And up goes the virtuous cycle of transforming lives through literacy.

We are in the process of selecting 15 more youth leaders to add to our program in 2016, for a total of 65. Each one of those 68 teens will read to 50 children; that’s 3,250 children getting the best preparation they can for a better life - regular read aloud sessions. Thank you for making this possible.

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