Maintaining a job that crosses some of the most distant places in Brazil is not an easy task. Today we support a network of 91 libraries in 22 municipalities in the Brazilian Legal Amazon, which has a history of about 100,000 children and youngers being impacted. This is only possible due to the efforts of hundreds of people spread throughout the country. However, a substantial part of this effort is entirely voluntary. Women and men devote much of their time to the management of community libraries in their communities and municipalities. Without these people, Vaga Lume would have been nothing more than a flash of light that passed by the Amazon almost 20 years ago.
It was by them, for them and thanks to them that our 9th Vaga Lume's Congress was a success in every aspect. After months of work by the team, which included the registration of the participants, the production of the event, the search for partnerships, the preparation of the agenda and communication material, 76 volunteers from the Amazon were able to get to know the largest metropolis in Latin America. For some, it meant a journey taken by boat for days; for others, it was the first time in an airplane; but for all, it was a unique opportunity to exchange experiences between members of different peoples of the Amazon and generations of Vaga Lume’s volunteers.
This 4-day intense agenda included trainings, open classes, lectures, and workshops. The 9th Vaga Lume's Congress was aligned with activities of the Balada Literária (“Literary Ballad”, in English), an annual festival of popular literature hosted at three major Brazilian cities. Apart from that, this encounter marked the beginning of a new era for Vaga Lume. The volunteers collaborated with the construction of the organization's action plan for the upcoming years. This action plan aims to create more libraries to even more communities in the Amazon.
At each Vaga Lume's encounter, whether in the form of a Congress, regional meeting, training or even a monitoring expedition, the richness of cultural exchanges lives up to the complexity of the Amazon region. At this Congress, it was no different: many times, volunteers were able to illustrate how community libraries have become spaces to share and strengthen local traditions and knowledge. After all, along with literature, there is also creativity and imagination, two essential ingredients for the construction of meanings and recognition of the power of culture in every corner of the Amazon.
The amount of knowledge exchanged in just four days has left us speechless. Our conviction and inspiration were renewed by the effort and engagement of the group in the Vaga Lume's mission: to empower children living in rural remote communities of the Amazon by promoting reading and management of community libraries as a space of knowledge sharing.
Open class with the writer Valter Hugo Mae