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Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala
Help Build School Libraries in Rural Guatemala

As the whole world deals with COVID 19 pandemic, each place adapts according to its own realities. The first cases in Guatemala appeared in mid March, the national government quickly established measures like closing schools, prohibiting public bus transportation, shutting the borders, limiting businesses and shops, establishing a curfew. To ensure the safety and well being of Pueblo a Pueblo staff and the people we serve, we postponed all face-to-face meetings and trainings and started working remotely. Since the schools shifted to remote classes, the school libraries remain closed.

All these measures have helped reduce the spread of cases, but have had great impact in daily life and economy. This has had a dramatic impact on the communities we serve, including the ones that have participated in Pathways to Literacy project, leading to  widespread food insecurity as most people live day-to-day, are in the informal economy, and rely directly and indirectly on tourism. 

Pueblo a Pueblo analyzed what the short and long term impacts to the communities we work with and we determined the most immediate are increased food insecurity, and loss of family incomes. These will cause even more impact long term on education, health and malnutrition. To reduce immediate food insecurity we set up donation drives, with help of some matching grants, to collect funds to distribute food baskets to prioritized families we serve. This includes members from the School Library Support Group in Patzilín Abaj. 

In the medium and long term we've started adapting our projects to the changing needs of the communities we work with so that our actions lead to more positive impact. As we continue to adapt, we will provide food baskets to people in the communities we serve.

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Students use the RACHEL program on a tablet
Students use the RACHEL program on a tablet

Tucked away in small communities on Guatemala's Lake Atitlán, many of our partner schools lack access to one of the world’s most powerful teaching tools: the internet. We’re committed to seeing students succeed despite the challenges of rural life.

How do we do it? With RACHEL. This educational tool allows for knowledge-sharing without the use of the internet. We offer RACHEL through a collaboration with Mundo Posible to give students the chance to learn beyond the walls of their classrooms.

How does it work? Each library has a router that allows students to log into RACHEL from an electronic tablet. Students can then engage with an extensive collection of educational games, stories, and videos. All materials come pre-selected based on students’ age and reading levels. RACHEL can triple or even quadruple the resources Pueblo a Pueblo is able to donate to any given school.

It’s no secret that in today’s world, most public and private institutions depend heavily on computers and other digital technologies. As a result, many jobs—even in rural Guatemala—require technological literacy. We seek to prepare students for personal and professional success, and RACHEL is a helpful way to build the skills they need to achieve this.

RACHEL helps schools address the challenges of rural life. The program also gives students from rural communities access to the life-long benefits of technological literacy. Your donations to this project help us bring RACHEL to schools all around Lake Atitlán. Thank you for supporting students as they learn to read, write, communicate, and self-advocate in an ever-changing world.

Librarian Ms. Clara helps students use the program
Librarian Ms. Clara helps students use the program
Student literacy ambassadors (in vests) use RACHEL
Student literacy ambassadors (in vests) use RACHEL

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Ms. Clara reads aloud to students
Ms. Clara reads aloud to students

School has been out for almost three weeks here in Guatemala, where students attend class from January through late October. However, the library at Patzilin Abaj Primary School is full of young learners spending part of their winter vacation reinforcing their literacy gains.

Beginning readers need constant engagement with reading, writing, and storytelling activities in order to maintain their literacy levels over time. That’s why our Pathways to Literacy team leads two weeks of reading camp at each of our partner schools each winter: to give kids a chance to start the new school year stronger.

On Tuesday morning, Pathways to Literacy Project Coordinator Lidia Quiejú started off her day by reading a children’s book to fifteen wiggly students. The story was called Los cincuenta pasteles (“The Fifty Cakes”) and centered on a would-be entrepreneur named Enrique who foolishly agrees to bake fifty cakes for a very picky king—without any previous baking experience!

When she had finished her read-aloud, Lidia introduced the first group’s main activity: cake collages. “It’s important to give students an opportunity to be creative so that they can engage with the story in a variety of different ways,” Lidia explains. The students gathered leaves, seeds, and flower petals from the schoolyard and used them to decorate their “cakes”. The room quickly filled with the sound of hushed giggles as the students got right to work.

The second session of the day was led by Patzilin Abaj librarian Ms. Clara. “One of the goals of this project is professional development for school faculty—including its brand-new librarian,” explains Lidia. “So I lead the first session as a model, and then Clara leads the second to get comfortable with those same teaching techniques herself.”

Ms. Clara read the same book to the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders gathered for session two, but she used a more rigorous question-and-answer pattern to test the students’ comprehension. “What did Enrique want at the beginning of the story?” she asked. “What did you think would happen? Did the ending surprise you?”

Both groups of students will return for another week of reading camp, and they'll be back again in January for more learning. This program helps us fulfill our goal of building confidence in young readers and new educators—even while school is not in session!

Thank you for believing in the power of reading, writing, and storytelling to change lives. Your support fuels students' success.

Group 1 students gather collage materials
Group 1 students gather collage materials
A student shows off her collage
A student shows off her collage
Students participate in a "treasure hunt" activity
Students participate in a "treasure hunt" activity
Playing a "hot potato" reading comprehension game
Playing a "hot potato" reading comprehension game

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Tzanchaj Primary School
Tzanchaj Primary School

On a small, rural campus on the outskirts of Santiago Atitlán, Tzanchaj Primary School serves 252 students from preschool to sixth grade. A tight-knit group of teachers, administrators, and parents are enthusiastic about making the school a better place to learn, play, and grow—and they need your help to do it!

With your help, Pueblo a Pueblo will help them build a new school library at Tzanchaj, opening up doors to new ways of teaching and learning. “The library is a dynamic learning space,” says Pathways to Literacy Project Consultant Rebeca Sosof. “It's different from a regular classroom because it gives kids more freedom to learn and play at the same time.” Rebeca wants every student at Tzanchaj to pick up a book during recess, build a robot out of Legos, or play math games on an electronic tablet. Students who have the opportunity to engage with a variety of educational activities master vital skills like reading and writing more quickly and successfully, and the library will provide space for teachers to introduce and reinforce these skills in creative ways.

Your gift to this project will provide books, educational games, and teaching materials to fill the shelves of the brand-new library. With your support, our staff will also train a brand-new librarian to catalogue the donated materials and instruct school faculty in the use of library resources—in all subject areas, even science and math! Your donation will build a space where young people will walk a pathway to literacy—perhaps the greatest gift an educator can offer.

“My teachers and I are willing to work hard to build a better school for our students," says Principal María Magdalena Damián Tziná. "We've done it before, we're doing it now, and we'll do it again." Help us equip Principal Magdalena and her team with the tools they need to build and sustain a school library in Tzanchaj. You can give young students the gift of literacy today!

Rebeca and Principal Magdalena
Rebeca and Principal Magdalena
The future site of the new Tzanchaj school library
The future site of the new Tzanchaj school library

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Students portray the seven dwarves
Students portray the seven dwarves

Rebeca was thrilled to receive an invitation to an International Book Day celebration at Patzilin Abaj Primary School earlier this month. An educator herself, she enjoys any opportunity to celebrate learning. But she was especially excited to see the students and teachers at Patzilin Abaj bring their library to life.

Two years ago, Rebeca and the rest of her Pathways to Literacy team started their work at Patzilin Abaj. They have worked with school administrators to build a library from the ground up. They have filled it with books and delivered electronic tablets loaded with educational games and literacy-building tools. They have selected and trained a librarian and led professional development workshops for teachers, introducing them to the many ways they can use the library in their classes. There's still a year left before the school begins to manage the project independently, but the faculty of Patzilin Abaj have already done a lot to integrate the library into the lives of their students.

The school’s International Book Day celebration certainly put that hard work on display. Students, teachers, and administrators worked together to perform dramatizations of two books that can be found in the school library.

The first performance was a dramatic rendition of a classic fairy tale: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. Students dressed as trees, flowers, and woodland creatures filled the school’s large outdoor multipurpose space, transforming it into the forest where Snow White escapes her evil stepmother to live with the seven dwarves. School librarian Clara Eugenia played the role of the evil queen quite convincingly!

The second play was based on the children’s book Un Elefante Buscando Amigos (“An Elephant Looks for Friends”). In the story, an elephant struggles to make friends with the other animals in the jungle, until he finds friendship in the unlikeliest of places. While the other animals complain about how big and slow he is, the ant accepts the elephant for who he is despite their differences.

The other students watched the performances attentively. One of the teachers narrated aloud into a microphone, reading his role straight from the pages of each book! A few parents had gathered to watch too, smiling and laughing at the performers’ antics. At the end of the performances, Principal Caín addressed the whole audience. “Thank you for coming to today’s event, and congratulations to all of our performers,” he said. “And most importantly: you can find both of these books in our school library, so if you liked what you saw, go and check them out today!”

By bringing these books to life through performance, the teachers of Patzilin Abaj paved a pathway to literacy for their students. The next year of their collaboration with Pueblo a Pueblo will no doubt inspire an even deeper love of reading, writing and storytelling among students at Patzilin Abaj!

Narrating the stories
Narrating the stories
Librarian Clara Eugenia plays the evil stepmother
Librarian Clara Eugenia plays the evil stepmother
Students watch the plays
Students watch the plays
Parents had plenty of fun too!
Parents had plenty of fun too!
Rebeca and Principal Cain at the event
Rebeca and Principal Cain at the event

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States
$37,583 raised of $50,000 goal
 
860 donations
$12,417 to go
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