I recently participated in book deliveries in two, very rural indigenous (Chorti) communities in the Copan Ruinas region of Honduras. In one case there is already in place a single bookcase containing no more than 100 books. A community leader described this "bibliomovil" (mobile library) as the "soul of the community." Books are delivered a few at a time by horseback to this community. Books for all age groups are included and the books area also user to story hours conducted by Riecken Community Libraries volunteers in the local kindergarten. With a 4-wheel drive vehicle equipped as a mobile library we could deliver more books to more communities reaching more eager readers. We have a long ways to go to achieve our funding goal. Every little bit helps.
This program, which began in June of this year, is carried out weekly every Thursday at 3PM for over an hour and a half. Approximately 15-20 mothers are now participating in each session (up from 4-5). One father is participating, which is considered an achievement in the context of Guatemala’s highly chauvinistic society. Participating children are between the age of 8 months to 5 years old. One child, 11 years old with special needs, has begun participating with his mother; another learned lesson for the library. Each session includes a small educational talk on one or more of the pre-literacy techniques, plus activities, games, even songs, and now hands-on preparation of nutritional, appropriate, affordable foods. In order to develop the nutritional component of the program, Riecken staff has researched multiple sources and is receiving hands-on training from the Institute for Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP). One of the biggest challenges for this library is one of space as other would be users have to be asked to come at another time. Conversations are being had with US Rotary Clubs and institutions to find funding for a second floor for this library.
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.