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Posted by Candice on November 05, 2001 at 11:48:34:

Amigos y amigas,
I've been in touch with Laura Kelly and volunteered to write the news about the Children's Library of La Barra de Potosi for the board. She will return home soon from a stay in San Francisco. The project is going well, and will continue to do so with our help. For those who aren't familiar with it, the Children's Library is operated out of Laura and Noyo's B&B, Casa del Encanto, in a little building they've furnished as a schoolhouse. Here, the village children come to read and be read to; to work on homework; for art projects, informal English lessons, creative workshops led by Laura and her visitors; and to receive supplies they often need to attend school. The Library works closely with the local school, church, and parents. It is funded entirely by donations.
Laura has been able to contact some publishing houses in San Francisco who are willing to contribute books in Spanish--a big help. It is still costly to ship things down because of duties, etc., so they count on us to take donations via the "Supply Skyroad". For those who would like to take supplies with them to La Barra (or leave them with Rob in Zihua), the current wish list looks like this: Learning toys--blocks, puzzles, pictorial matching and counting toys--Laura says they really seem to help the kids get a head start on learning. Some children could use backpacks to carry their books to school. Paints and paint brushes. Notebooks, pencil sharpeners, colored pens, crayons, folders and sketch pads are always welcome, both for the library itself and for the giveaways. Here's what Laura has to say about the Giveaways:
"In the giveaways, we wait until we have 80 of a thing (now we have 80 school age kids in the village) so that all the kids get the same packet. The giveaways themselves have been fun. There are always a core group of kids who come early to help. They organize all the items in packets. One makes a list of all the kids ready to mark off names. The kids gather on the Library terrace all excited and two of the helper kids help them to make a calm line. They cooperate with a spirit of excited fun. Then two or three help me pass the things out to each child who receives his or her packet with such happiness and polite thank yous. It's kind of an event and the kids love that." Wow.
It's good to keep in mind that they need 80 of any item for the packets (!) so maybe a lot of one thing is better to take than a few of several different things?
If anyone has a laptop lying around that they'd like to donate, it would be appreciated. There's no internet access in the village, but the children are learning (on the one they do have) to use Word and other software, and they love it.
Other treasured donations have included baby clothes, baby toys and supplies, which Laura has been able to divide up and distribute to local families.
And for all you creative souls, this is such a rewarding opportunity to lead an art or music workshop, or whatever you can imagine to do with the children! Laura can be reached directly at lauragecko2@hotmail.com.

Thanks to a donation from a La Barra neighbor, Laura will be applying for non-profit status soon. There's also a scholarship fund in the works for the children whose families can't afford school fees and expenses.

This project is dear to the hearts of many of us who have visited and seen the beautiful children it benefits, and is one way to share our relative wealth with our good neighbors. I encourage anyone who is inclined to join in, and be touched by the magic. Feel free to contact me via email if you have questions, as once Laura returns to La Barra, her internet connection is not nearly as handy as mine is.

See you all in mid-January--we have tickets in hand--Troncones first, then Zihua, with a side trip to La Barra. Only 67 more days :~D




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