The Oaxaca Lending Library (OLL) was established in 1966 and is the oldest English language library in Mexico. Ten years ago members of this library began a program called Libros Para Pueblos in an effort to bring the joy of reading to children in primary grades in the remote villages surrounding Oaxaca. Today there are 41 libraries in remote villages. We went to visit two of them yesterday.
Our group of eight gathered at the OLL at 9 where we were met by three volunteers and a van. Our first destination was the library at San Lucas Tlanichico. The small village is outside of the market town of Zaachila. Emblazened over the door in both Spanish and Zapotec is the motto of their library .... Casa del Saber ... and yuu nan ... house of knowledge.I was unprepared for what happened upon our arrival. The local school emptied out and and each child came and shook our hands and went into the library and chose a book to read to us. We spent the next forty minutes listening to these young readers read to us. I let the pictures speak.About a 15 minute drive from San Lucas is the school that serves children living in more remote parts of the foothills. The school is named Margarita Maza de Juarez and even this short distance we could see the difference the added remoteness made in the opportunities for these children. If a child who attends this school wants to attend secondaria, there would be a 2 hour bus trip that costs $2 each way. That cost is prohibitive.
We were greeted by the principal and the children and the women who are the officers of the PTA. Again the children were eager to read us their favorite books, and before we left asked us to send them more. We have decided to sponsor a library located in San Pedro El Alto. Like this school we visited, San Pedro El Alto serves remote mountain villages. Interested in how Libros Para Pueblos works? Click here.