By Shermakaye Bass, Editor Fara Foundation
For children everywhere, the library is a world apart. It’s a refuge, a wonderland. A place where the future unfolds…
For many kids, myself included, life would not have opened itself up to new and unforeseen opportunities if not for the local library. Having my own card as a young reader, and walking into the quiet solace of a library, with the smells of books and ink and periodicals in the air, shaped my life forever. In fact, the passion for literature that I developed there determined my destiny. When I was very young, my mother was widowed, and our young family fell on extremely hard times, economically and emotionally. The library saved me! It was where I spent a great deal of my childhood, and I have no doubt that its quiet recesses kept me out of trouble – and led me on to the path of college and ultimately to the writer’s path. (I hope that for some of us, this is a good thing!!)
The point is, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of literacy and libraries — especially for young minds, and particularly for youngsters in developing countries. That’s why Fara Foundation is so very grateful to Global Partners-Nicaragua for opening a lending library at our Santa Rita primary school; the two-classroom school is located on the Santa Rita coffee plantation outside Matagalpa operated by Fara Coffee.
Back in March 2014, Global Partners, a nonprofit group that we frequently collaborate with, sent a team to Matagalpa. The team was led by three staffers from Libraries for All, a Nicaragua-based group dedicated to the establishment of libraries. And the result is an ever-growing collection (now almost 300 books) of reading materials. On the day the library opened, 43 school children felt the thrill of signing their name on a lending card for the first time ever. You can bet it wasn’t their last! Many of the kids explained to GP volunteers later that they were sharing those books with family members at home. It takes a village…
Participants in this inspiring project include North Woods International School and Olivet Lutheran Church, both of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, whose members donated the funds for the Santa Rita lending library. The $2,000 budget covered the purchase of books, bookcases, educational games, art and school supplies, a $300 sponsorship fee, and travel costs for the Libraries for All team. In addition, the La Crosse Aquinas High School donated 22 children’s books written and illustrated by advanced-level Spanish students. And Global Partners has set up a $200 per-annum to help the library grow in the future.
Global Partners’ Sheila Riley shared this wonderful account after GP’s return mission to Matagalpa recently:
“In June, 2014 Global Partners volunteers returned to Santa Rita and were greeted with song and dance by close to 60 students and their 2 teachers. One student shared how the books were being used in the classroom and
shared with family at home. Another young man demonstrated his improving literacy skills by reading out loud to the group. Global Partners donated an additional 90 books to the library. After a snack, many students headed to the soccer field with the younger Global Partners volunteers. But when one student from Wisconsin asked if any of the younger children would like to read to her, a stream of students headed back to the library to read their new books!”
Awe-inspiring story, right? We are extremely fortunate to work with groups like Global Partners, which plans to open more lending libraries in rural and underserved areas. And we’re extremely fortunate to work with the dedicated students, teachers, and parents of students at Santa Rita elementary. Congratulations on the lending library!