Puedo Leer is one of the smaller NGOs in the area and our mission is simply to bring the joy of reading to the people of Nicaragua. We have the main lending library on Calle Santa Lucia and a reading room at the Hotel Corazon but we have many other programs that help fulfill the mission. We have the “reading in the park” program on weekends and we have trained many people to become librarians or library custodians or simply showing teachers how to read to children. Many community centers, schools and community libraries have been assisted by our staff to learn skills needed to support library functions. Our greatest reach, though, has been through the delivery of books every two weeks to 24 public schools to allow teachers to read a book each day to their classes. This program has touched thousands of children.
Nothing in Nicaragua moves as fast as we expats sometimes expect. Preparing the new library space is a great example of how we foreigners are taught patience by the system and culture here in Nicaragua.
Darrell found the room for us in a community centre in a barrio called, Pancasan. When we first saw the room is was filled with new desks waiting for a school over on Ometepe Island to be completed. It is a basic concrete block construction with a grill on the window opening to the road but with just open spaces for two windows and two doors on the interior wall.
We needed to make sure the room was secure and that there was access to the road for us to open the library on Saturdays when the community centre is closed. The NGO who had originally built the community centre undertook to put grills over the two windows and doors and to knock out and build the outside door. They even put glass over the outside window to still allow for light and air but obstruct the vision. One of our fears is the idea of losing all to robbers when there is no one in the centre. Fortunately there are houses close by so hopefully our fears are for nought, but you must always take precautions. The changes were accomplished very quickly, albeit, roughly. This rough work included the old lock they put on the outside door which was a fight to open each time we went over to work there. Finally we had a locksmith we know come and put in a new lock and ensure the library was safe but easily accessed. The community centre is at the end of a dirt road and I didn’t want the young woman we have hired to be the librarian to have to be out there alone struggling to get it.
We also discovered that one corner of the room flooded after heavy rains. It was hard to see where the water was coming from as there is a deep overhang on that side of the room. We have since had workmen from a nearby construction site come and dig out a corner of the concrete floor and re-concrete it believing that the water might be seeping up. We also bought silicon sealant and went around the three outside walls sealing the edges where walls and floor meet. Last night was the first big rainfall for a couple of weeks so we will see if our efforts have made a difference.
So now we have a room we believe is secure and dry for the new library.
Before we even opened a library, a young man from the USA who had opened a small library in San Juan de Oriente, told us ‘ don’t worry, the books will come’. At the time didn’t really understand what that would mean!
This week we again experienced what he meant. Books did come, as indeed they have over the years, but this time we received over 350 books that Roanna Metowski brought in her luggage!. Roanna and her husband Victor are here in Nicaragua to collect butterfly samples for Yale University, but for months she has been searching out Spanish language children’s books in Connecticut.
They brought over 90 pounds of books!! It was like Christmas when Ruth, Ivania, and two young library members, Cristofer and Enoc, unpacked the bags and put all them all on a table. Most of the books brought exclamations of joy and surprise. Although some of the books are repeats of what we have in the main library, we are opening up a new branch out in the barrio, Pancasan.
We always need books as our collection is great for this city that has only the one lending library - us - but it is a small collection in comparison to those to which North American children have access.
Many of the books Roanna brought are for very young children and in English but she had also Google translated them. Ruth will check the translations that are on a disk to make sure they fit Nicaraguan Spanish - not necessarily the same as that of Spain - and we will cut and paste the translations over the English words. Roanna also brought us permanent glue sticks and permanent ink felt pens with which to do this transforming job. I can’t even imagine the number of hours she must have spent on this task!
Thank you so much Roanna. The books will be shared between the two libraries, the reading room and the two new schools that we will be giving bibliotecaulas and teacher workshops to in January.
Truly, the ‘books do come’!
The Puedo Leer Team