Posted by Laura on August 18, 2001 at 14:57:48:
In Reply to: school kids posted by mike on August 17, 2001 at 14:45:47:
The Children's Library Project of La Barra de Potosi is a great option for a place to bring school supplies. We work together with the Parents of Families organization of the village, the local school director and teachers, and the officials of the local school district to serve as a distribution point for school supplies as well as other things generous visitors may want to bring down. These donations are distributed directly through the children's library to the 60 kids of La Barra and their families and then to the remaining 40 kids from surrounding areas who together make up the 100 kids total who attend the primary and secondary schools at at Barra de Potosi.
We are a small and personal project which has arisen spontaneously as part of life here in the village where little by little tourism is just coming to be part of the fishing village life. Con gusto, we invite you to visit and meet the kids while you are here. The families are fishermen families for the most part with very scant resources for such things as education. The school is basically a shell of a building with some tables for the kids. The teachers don't even have desks. It's remarkable how well the teachers do under such circumstances.
The families are given a list of things the kids should bring at the beginning of the year including such things as pencils, notebooks, colors, glue, pencil sharpeners, rulers, scissors, pencil sharpeners etc. It is actually quite difficult for these families to purchase these things especially if they have several children attending school. I have personally seen kids not go to school because of their embarrassment in not having the things they need. In addition to these things we can make great use of any kind of teaching aid from posters to computers... books in spanish of course for the library, toys, even used clothing or first aid supplies.
We try in the Library Project to collect 50-100 of any one of the small distributable supplies (pencils, colors etc) and then we have a givaway... so that each child has what they need. (It's like a family here and it's soon known if we give a notebook to one kid... we then have a steady stream of kids who wonder if they are less loved than the first. The level of need is close to the same. We have the giveaways in the Library and parents and neighbors of the village are involved.
We also organize workshops and special events with our visitors such as music or storytelling workshops, presentations in the school in whatever specialtity a visitor may bring with them. Once, for example, we had a presentation in the school by a visitor -using toys designed to run on solar energy as props- all about solar energy. The kids and teachers loved it and everyone had fun. We invite participation by anyone interested!
The children know that the donated items come through the generosity of visitors but also through the work of their parents and teachers who help with the library project. The idea we have is to make an exchange of generosity and culture that will help the kids, enhance relations between visitors and locals and also support the independence and cultural integrity of the village. We want to avoid creating a charity culture or an image of the tourist as a kind of Santa Claus. The kids are like sponges ready to absorb what they can learn and they are so appreciative of even the smallest gift. A pencil is a big deal to them and they are grateful and happy to receive it. They are also delighted to write with that pencil, a beautiful thank-you note and to expect to continue the cycle of contribution to the community at large. (I must confess I have folders of thank you notes made by the kids which I'm not sure what to do with since I don't have all the addresses of the kind people who have brought things for us.)
You are all warmly invited to be part of this. You can contact me at this email or through our website (below). You can also leave things with Rob in his office in Zihuatanejo.
By the way, on our website you can see lots of photos of the kids, the library and some of our activities. Soon I'll be putting up more photos of the school as well. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity and have a great time on your vacation!
Barra de Potosi