I just spent a couple of weeks in Guatemala and am happily overwhelmed by the changes I see. I want you to know how deep an impact you are making. (For photos, see link below.)
Over and over again, as I interviewed nearly every one of our 30 teen reading promoters, I heard them talk about their reading promotion work in ways that show they clearly understand the profound nature of the work. "My community has changed," said Carlos. "It's not just about reading to children. It's about transforming the whole community."
They see changes in themselves: A teen who is among the poorest of our promoters and who used to feel socially isolated at school said, "I used to cry a lot. The kids discriminated against me, and I felt very alone. But because of the [Reading Village] program I have changed. Now I know I am important. I matter. I am proud. And I am proud to carry my Reading Village book bag."
They see changes in the children they read to: The teens work a theme in a book (for example, discrimination in The Ugly Duckling). They ask children to share examples from the book that reflect discrimination and the teen writes it on the paper on the wall. Then they discuss solutions to the problem. The kids are beside themselves with pride to see their ideas on the wall. Teachers report to the teens changes they've seen in their students -- everything from improved teamwork to greater engagement and grades.
They see changes in the elementary school teachers: Teachers have started using literacy promotion techniques that they see our teens using.
They see changes in their siblings: Little brothers and sisters run around with books in their hands and ask to be read stories.
They feel supported by their community: An adult to a reading promoter, "Where are you going with that book bag?" Promoter, "To read to children." Community member, "Wow! How great that you are doing this! It's very important that our children learn how to read."
Buoyed by all this success, the promoters in both communities are seeking the support of local community leadership to find space for them to create the very first community library in their village.
Your investment in these teens and their work is having an impact far beyond children's literacy. It's transforming entire communities.
Please donate today.