Small but mighty!
July 30 & 31
This is a wonderful organization that delivers boxes of books (both fiction and non-fiction) to rural schools in Central America. (www.booksforabetterworld.org (They are also on Facebook). If you love books and love children, this would be a great organization to make a donation!
I arrived back in El Salvador after a very brief visit to celebrate my sister’s 70th birthday. I was greeted at the airport by María (president of an organization called Art for El Salvador, OSP board member and member of First Presbyterian Church in Dallas Center) and Kira – the president of BfaBW. María has been here since July 22 and accompanied Alejandro and Cecilia for my airport pick up. Prior to fetching me, they had fetched Kira and her 14 boxes of books from San Salvador.
The original plan was for Kira to spend the entire week visiting 3 schools a day. Sadly, we found out too late, that August 1-7 is a national holiday and schools are not in session. So we had resigned ourselves to only having two days to deliver. But there were more complications. Many of the schools didn’t bother to have school Monday or Tuesday either. Or they had parent meetings or were celebrating the ‘Day of the Student’ parties. In all we were only able to really visit and engage with the students at four schools, and able to drop off books and speak with teachers at two others.
Fortunately, when the Art for El Salvador delegation is here, we will be able to deliver to three other schools and present the basic program. Not as well as Kira, but we will do our best.
Our school visits were quite fun. Kira took time to talk to the Director and teachers of each school and asked them to fill out a simple survey with basic student data. Then all the students would be gathered and Kira would talk to them about the “Three promises” – You need to care for, share and read the books. And she explained what all that entailed. Then 2 or 3 books would be read – some of them acted out. It was very sweet. Everyone seemed to enjoy the stories. One school we went to had no students in attendance because there was a parent meeting. So Kira and María read to them! The parents LOVED that! They laughed and giggled and were really engaged! Incorporating the parents could really be helpful in the process of motivating the children.
After story time, the older children were paired with younger (non-readers) for shared reading. This is a common practice in the States, but not here. Reading just for fun is not common here. Access to books is extremely limited. Even in a classroom.
After shared reading, Kira repeated the 3 promises. After a short final visit with the teaching staff, we said our good-byes and moved on to the next school.
Our two days flew by. I feel so bad that we were not able to visit all the schools that we had planned. We will make sure that next year, Kira’s time will not coincide with a national Holiday.
Thank you Kira and Books for a Better World! You do GREAT and very important work. The joy of reading just for fun is something most of us take for granted. Especially those of us with children of our own. It was a daily gift to read to my boys when they were young. We had so much fun.
Yet another aspect of the realities of life in a country that struggles.