I live between Nicaragua and the United States since 2012. When I moved to Nicaragua, one of my goals was to volunteer for locals. That didn’t happen officially, as I got involved with personal causes. Now that I know that in the near future, I will not be in Nicaragua permanently, I feel the urge to volunteer again. This country has given me so much time, space and growth and I want to pay it forward before I leave. I started contacting organizations and that is how I met Ivania.
Ivania Mena García, 38, is the single mom of two girls. Years ago, she didn’t have a job. Around the same time, her neighbor Darrell Bushnell and other concerned community members met to discuss the possibility of opening the first lending library open to the public in Granada, Nicaragua with the prime objective of bringing the pleasure of reading to the people of Granada. They started a Reading Corner at Hotel con Corazón and they trained Ivania to be in charge of it, from cleaning the space, to helping the children with their homework and reading, to being a librarian, and hosting members, volunteers and visitors.
From the Reading Corner they moved and became Café Chavalos for a couple years, until they started Puedo Leer (I Can Read), with a main focus on promoting reading and a love of reading among children, so that they can become lifelong learners, succeed academically and economically, and ultimately be instrumental in raising standards of education and literacy in Nicaragua.
Puedo Leer took to the road, delivering books bi-weekly to elementary classrooms. As books made their debut in the public schools, enthusiasm passed from teacher to teacher and from teacher to student. For many of the teachers, holding a children’s book was a new experience. Children began to look forward to stories being read to them, then asked to hold the books themselves. As splashes of color and bold graphics jumped from each page and the ability to read became a reality, a new world began to unfold.
Puedo Leer has mushroomed into a major project with a profound impact on the children of Granada. They are now looking into the possibility of adding more libraries and reading centers in other locations in Granada since it is a neighborhood activity center. They are also adding other activities such as art classes and crafts which provides great experiences for the children here since they do not have much opportunity for hands-on activities. The schools do not have the time or resources and there are few community centers offering activities.
Even though I have only visited the library a few times, I have witnessed the dedication of the team and the gratitude of the kids. It is beautiful and inspiring to hear Annaelizabeth Blandon and Carol Rea, Executive Director and Operations Manager respectively, share their vision for the library, supported by Ivania, the Board of Directors, and Volunteers.
We can help Puedo Leer Library:
- Donating Books or puzzles!
- Taking Colonial Home Tours
- Doing a Fund Raiser
- Offering Sponsorships/Grants
- Or simply sharing this post so your contacts get to know them and help them!
Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for helping!
With love and gratitude,
Note: Fragments of text from Puedo Leer’s website appear in this post.