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.
We are hoping to get this project fully funded by the end of the year so that we might expand the program to include even more girls. Women and girls in rural Guatemala are second class citizens and only with the power of knowledge is that going to change. If we can help girls learn to read and gain access to books they will have the most basic key to a better life. When we are fully funded we hope to launch "girls only" book clubs encourage the girls to not only read to to communicate with each other about what they have read and to gain confidence in numbers. Discussions about their reading will also enhance critical thinking skills which are not addressed in the Guatemalan education system.
After multiple visits to the libraries offering enhanced girl reader programming I often see an increase in the number of girls in the libraries and also see gains in their confidence level. With unlimited access to information because of their reading skills young girls in Guatemala can truly change their world.