Who’s Helping TASK? Librarians Without Borders at the University of British Columbia

On my return from Nicaragua in early March 2010, I made arrangements to meet Samantha Sinanan, a member of Librarians Without Borders, an organization at the University of British Columbia (LWB@UBC). Samantha had initiated the relationship between TASK and LWB@UBC and was instrumental in beginning some fundraising for TASK’s children’s library project. In February 2009, I had been invited by LWB@UBC to speak to their members about the development of the children’s library in Santa Rosa del Peñon. My presentation sparked their interest in my grassroots project. The students raised funds through activities such as selling Café Etico coffee, bake sales and the sale of greeting cards. At that meeting in March, Samantha presented me with an envelope containing $357.65. They continued their fundraising efforts to the end of the year and were able to send a cheque for another $110.

Samantha (l) presenting Carroll (r) with the Librarians Without Borders@UBC donation for the children of Santa Rosa del Peñon, Nicaragua.

How to use the money wisely? That is always my mission. In the past, I have visited Kidsbooks, a fabulous children’s bookstore in Vancouver, and a number of times have emptied their one shelf of Spanish books. In addition, a teacher friend in California has sent me the Spanish edition of Scholastic book orders, from which I ordered books and she delivered them to me when she came to visit. Through these means, I have been able to provide about 300 books for the little children’s library in Santa Rosa del Peñon. However, most of books I’ve managed to procure, are translations of North American children’s books and do not represent or reflect the life and experiences of Latin American children.

In February 2010, we stopped in Granada for a couple of days. By coincidence, we happened to be there during the annual poets’ festival. Wandering about the central square, I noticed a booth with a lot of children interacting with books. Immediately, my curiosity drew me to the booth and there I discovered the jackpot!!! Libros Para Niños…a private organization, promoting reading and books for children, in Nicaragua, with their central office in Jinotepe. They provide services for non-governmental organizations that work to promote books and reading for the enjoyment of children. In addition, they support local authors and provide training for those interested in learning about library programming for children. My understanding it that they will match any purchase one makes. So the answer to my question, “How to use the money wisely?”,  may be with Libros para Niños. In February 2011, I plan to visit the organization in Jinotepe before heading to Santa Rosa. I hope to spend $300 of the LWB@UBC‘s donation on books, which should materialize into $600, if I have understood the terms of the program correctly. What a windfall for the children of Santa Rosa del Peñon. I can’t wait to go shopping!! My idea for the remaining $167 is to organize a proper bookshelf for all the books and have cushions made for the children to sit on while they listen to stories. However, my final decision will be made following consultation with the community. Another of my objectives for the upcoming trip is to work with interested youth to teach them how to handle the books and read to the children. I can hardly wait to get started!!

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