Creating Girl Readers in Guatemala

by The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc.
From books to Wikipedia
From books to Wikipedia

Thanks to your generosity this project is now fully funded and we have lots of girls in Guatemala with their heads buried in books as a result.  The obvious next step in this process involves technology thus we have just opened a project to enhance technology in our libraries with a special focus on girls and women.  

It is our hope that you will continue your generosity towards the girls in one very deserving community who are waiting in line to use a couple of old beat up computers that cannot even run a video.  Our hope is to give them a decent internet connection along with updated hardware and software.  We will also work with the community on a sustainability plan so that they are not forever dependent on donor generosity to replace their technology equipment.  Have a look at project #14768 and help us to get the community of Xolsacmlaja, Totonicapan, Guatemala on the map.  And we mean that literally.  Maybe the girls will find a way to get recognized by Google Maps along the way.

Thank you for everything you do.

Best wishes, Joan Fuetsch

Member. Board of Directors

I can read and now I can use the internet.
I can read and now I can use the internet.

First of all a big "muchas gracias" to all of you who have donated to promote reading among girls in Guatemala. To date we have raised a total of $17,590 with ONLY $410 to go before hitting our target.  Clearly, that doesn't mean that the work is done but our next big push is technology based resources. Now that so many girls are reading we will soon be increasing their access to educational content available through the internet.  The Spanish language videos from the Khan Academy and Wikipedia are just a few of the resources that will soon be available to girls and their moms.  Imagine the sense of freedom and confidence building that will come from having access to all of the information on the internet. You have helped to make this possible.  Thank you.


Book delivery by boat and tuk tuk.
Book delivery by boat and tuk tuk.

Few could miss the recent "One Billion Rising" movement against violence towards women and girls.  Giving girls the chance to learn to read is only one step in this battle.  With the ability to read comes the self-confidence necessary to understand that they need not submit to violence simply because they are female.  What chance does an illiterate woman or girls have in a macho society?

We are so close to closing out this project so that we might start another one to include even more young girls and more training for our librarians on how to teach literacy to all age groups.  

The photo included with this report is a photo of books that your donations have made possible being delivered to our library in San Juan La Laguna at Lake Átitlan.  The box contains books requested by the library that are not available for purchase in Guatemala.  They were shipped from the US and driven to the lake where they were loaded on a boat and then a tuk tuk for delivery to the library.  

We thank you for your past support and hope that you will continue to help us forge ahead in building both reading skills and self-confidence in young girls in Guatemala.  



Girls participating in a story hour.
Girls participating in a story hour.

As 2012 comes to a end help us bring this project to a close so that we can start another one.  A little more than $1800 is all we need to get a few more books into the hands of eager female readers.  Astrid, one of our young girl readers, is now in an international school in Guatemala on a scholarship and is asking in English for explanations about taxes, poverty and corruption.  Yes, Astrid!  So, you see what we can do for impoverished girls in Central America with your help.  

We start with story hours then book clubs.  Reading gives young girls confidence.  This weekend we are delivering a load of books to one of our libraries.  After a two hour drive the books will go into a boat for a 45-minute boat ride and then arrive at the library via a tuk tuk.  Long journey but there are lots of girls waiting eagerly for the new books.  Once the girls gain the reading habit then they are onto computers where the sky is the limit.  Thanks you so much for all of your contributions and hopefully you can give these girls a little bit more.  

Happy to see the arrival of new books.
Happy to see the arrival of new books.
Now the sky is the limit.
Now the sky is the limit.


New books, Science, Debate, Links and more
New books, Science, Debate, Links and more

Today we had a group of visitors cross Lake Atitlan in Guatemala by boat to visit our San Juan La Laguna Library. This library recently requested new books as so many of their books were very, very worn.  This library has a very high percentage of girl readers.  Funds were raised from the Rotary Club of Reno and by the library itself by showing movies in the evening and asking attendees to pay for popcorn to buy new books for everyone including the girls.  

Your donations also go towards buying new books particularly oriented towards young girl readers. Community volunteers engage the girls with story hours then help the girls read until they are reading on their own.  As you might guess reading is power in a country where women and girls have been disenfranchised for decades.  Included with the report are a couple of photos of the recent arrival of new books at this library.  You might want to also listen to the interview done in 2007 with Allen Andersson, who with his wife Susan Riecken, founded the Riecken Community Library network.   Muchas gracias (Thank you) for your help.  

Girls listening to story hour.
Girls listening to story hour.



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Organization Information

The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc.

Location: Princeton, NJ - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
William Cartwright
Antigua, Sacatepequez Guatemala

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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