Fundacion Leer Staff
Clarissa is a GlobalGiving In-the-Field Volunteer. She is visiting GlobalGiving's projects in South America and writing postcards to donors to let them know how their donations are having an impact. Read other postcards from the field here: http://www.globalgiving.org/inthefield/.
Imagine a community plagued by poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. A town dotted with makeshift homes, and weighed down by a lack of hope for a better future. Now imagine if something as simple as new books can help transform this bleak picture. These are the circumstances in Chaco province, as well as city suburbs and rural towns throughout Argentina, but Fundacion Leer’s work is proof that reading is a crucial in affecting change.
Through the promotion of literacy, Fundacion Leer establishes access points to quality education, affording new opportunities for at risk children and their families. Each year Fundacion Leer facilitates over 500 projects in communities throughout Argentina, including their National Reading Marathon, e-learning portals, and training programs to ensure the ongoing promotion of literacy on a local level. The organization’s cornerstone, however, is the creation of reading corners (Rincones de Lectura) in schools, community centers, hospitals, and orphanages. The reading corners function as personalized libraries that offer a tranquil and innovative space for children to learn, grow, and dream. Despite attending school, often these spaces are children’s only access to reading materials. I had the opportunity to meet with Merecedes Méndez Ribas of Fundacion Leer to learn more about their current GlobalGiving project in Chaco province and why funding for a reading corner in t his community will have an impact beyond books.
Due to poor roads and limited means of transportation, I was unable to see the Chaco community firsthand, but the images Mercedes and her team shared with me painted an alarming picture. Looking at the flimsy homes and crumbling walls, I was not surprised to learn that most of the residents live in extreme poverty, lack stable jobs, and only about 10 percent are literate – a stark contrast to the over 90 percent literacy rates in Argentina’s major cities. Amid the debilitated structures, however, is a community center which will house Fundacion Leer’s reading corner. Mercedes explained that in areas like Chaco, schools and other institutions play an integral role in the community. They often double as clinics and sources for food, water, and electricity. As a result, improvements within these structures affect both the children they are intended for and the families who have come to rely on them.
In Chaco, for instance, the community center already aids in bringing together local families and leaders, and offers a safe haven for children. As a result, the creation of a library will not only help strengthen these crucial ties, but also cultivate a love of reading, foster dreams beyond the shantytown, and instill a sense of pride within the community. Fundacion Leer is also working closely with community leaders to assist in the preservation and resurgence of the local language, Qom. Consequently, several books that explain the history and importance of Qom will be supplied.
By the numbers, funding will provide 70 at risk kids with a space filled with 300 books to call their own, and will include training for 13 teachers and community leaders to ensure the ongoing promotion of literacy. But, these are just the numbers, and while important, it should be clear by now that it’s not just about these initial 70 kids. It’s also about the kids to follow who will see reading as a norm; and, about the parent who will have the opportunity to read their child a bedtime story for the first time. It’s about a long-term investment in the children of Chaco, their families, and the community as a whole!
There’s still a lot of work left to be done and funds to be raised. Go to GlobalGiving.org to find out how your donation can make a difference!