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Dec 21, 2018

From Oxford to small communities in the Amazon

In November, over the course of two weeks we visited 14communities in the municipalities of Santarém and Oriximiná in the state of Pará, just bordering the neighbouring state of Amazonas. These visits, by providing face-to-face contact and thus strengthening bonds between Vaga Lume and the communities, make up an essential part of the Expedition Program. In the communities of Atodi (in the municipality of Santarém) and Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Oriximiná), we held courses with the participation of the local community, training local volunteers and making preparations to set up a Vaga Lume library. In the other 12communities, we visited the already established libraries, bringing with us fresh stocks of new books. We engaged in games with the children and spoke to the community leaders about how the library is functioning, and how else Vaga Lume can help to promote a love of reading in the community.

Upon arrival at these communities, it was fantastic to see the enthusiasm with which the children embraced the new boxes of books. They loved not only to read them, but also to show them to their friends and read them aloud to each other. It was clear that the library was not merely a facility for the community to use, but rather an integrated part of the community itself. The communities themselves took ownership of the libraries and made them their own. As a result, the libraries possessed an atmosphere of warmth, comfort and liveliness.

It is clear that the libraries tie together communities, and that the community identity brings each library its own unique character. It was a pleasure to see the creativity with which the children had decorated their reading spaces. A place of calm, reflection and inspiration had been cultivated out of just a simple room. The two weeks we spent with these communities provided just a glimpse into the true benefit that these libraries bring not only to the children, but to everyone involved.

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Nov 7, 2018

A magic place called the library!

Vaga Lume satff in front of the library
Vaga Lume satff in front of the library

In October we reinaugurated the headquarters of the Vaga Lume José Carmelo Mota Jr Library in the Céu community in Ilha do Marajó, located in the State of Pará. With the help of all the children in the community, we transformed a simple reading space into a magical place full of stories.

This transformation came to be thanks to the partnership between Vaga Lume and ImaginaC - a project that creates a connection between children and public spaces through art.

               "We need to listen to children, and at the same time relearn how to be a child: they have the power of transformation. Children are small in size, but giants in attitude who are able to humanize relations and places in which they live.” -- Nayana Brettas, founder of the ImaginaC project.

The children of the Céu community did exactly this: through paintings and decorations on the walls, they turned the library into a place full of meaning and dreams.

The most brilliant thing was that the children participated in the entire production process, from inventing the fantastic creatures to replicating them on the walls by painting them in bright colors. Each drawing has a special meaning and conveys precisely what is inside each child’s imagination.

What impressed us was not only how the library was just like the community but also how wonderful the teamwork was. All the children were engaged and the imagination of one child connected to that of another child to turn their dream into a reality! Now the library has become a point of reference in the region and reading mediations and other cultural activities happen there every day.

Drawing made by children
Drawing made by children
The children's drawing on the wall
The children's drawing on the wall
The library
The library

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Oct 5, 2018

Preserving the local culture in Amazon communities

Community of Graca de Deus with Dona Leoci
Community of Graca de Deus with Dona Leoci

One of the cornerstones of our Expedition Program is the preservation of the community’s memories and traditional knowledge. Through workshops, the local residents create books in which they tell their own stories. The most remarkable part of this is that all of these books are handmade.

The program begins with storytelling, when the storytellers share their memories, local traditions and tales for everybody to hear. Normally, these storytellers are older people with vast knowledge of local history and culture. After the storytelling is done, the volunteers choose one person to make a written record so they can start producing a handmade book with text and drawings.

The creation and distribution of these books is very important, since they not only strengthen the origins and history of the community, but they also contribute to the appreciation of the local culture of each people. Vaga Lume frequently promotes workshops and training sessions in order to encourage the production of these books.

Last month we held a number of workshops and handmade book releases. One of them was in the community of Graça de Deus, in Mirinzal, in the state of Maranhão. Young volunteers wrote a book: “The Midwife of Graça de Deus”, which tells the story of Dona Leoci, an eighty-year-old woman who is the oldest midwife of the region.

In the urban area of Ponte Alta do Tocantins, in the state of Tocantins, we held the release of the book “The Rabeca* of Mr. Miudo”, which tells the story of Mr. Miudo, a famous local storyteller and musician. In addition, in Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, the indigenous community released some handmade books telling local stories in their native language.

*Rabeca is an instrument used most commonly in Brazilian forró music.

Mr. Miudo at the launch of the handmade book
Mr. Miudo at the launch of the handmade book
Community of Pacaraima with their handmade books
Community of Pacaraima with their handmade books

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