In June 1999, we had the opportunity to go with an UMVIM group
from the St. John’s United Methodist Church of Lugoff, South Carolina to
Honduras to assist in the relief effort of the victims of Hurricane
“Mitch”. During our assignment we served in the communities of El
Estribo and Las Lajas.
As we considered their state of being and condition in life, our
hearts were filled with compassion towards them. We desired to perform a
service or contribute something that would have a longer lasting and permanent
affect on their lives and well being. When we returned to the United States, we
considered food, money, clothes and other material relief. However, all of that
seemed to be insufficient and not what they truly needed.
Upon reflecting further, we determined that the majority of the
people in the communities had very little or no education. We noticed that
there were virtually no books in the homes of the local villagers or at the
We feel that if we could make books available in the homes of the
citizens, they could begin to read and become more aware of what is available
for them. Through this, they could become more self-reliant.
The goal of “Reading is Power” is to provide small libraries to
the one-room schoolhouses in the isolated communities served by CCD. The
libraries contain educational books for the children from preschool through
elementary and above. The number of books in the library is determined by the
size of the community. The library is self-contained, including a cabinet,
books and a simple cataloguing system, and serves as a resource to the
We felt with the inherent complexities of an international
project, only a simple implementation strategy will be successful. The
community of Las Lajas is being used as pilot project for the proposed
strategy. The initial library will serve an estimated 200 families in the
Choluteca region of Honduras, including the communities of Las Lajas, El
Estribo, 12 de Febrero, and Santa Catarina. A formal evaluation of the Las
Lajas pilot project will be performed and adjustments to the strategy made
prior to any expansion of the program to other CCD communities.
Based on the success of the Las Lajas pilot project, CCD
will identify other communities to be targeted for the libraries.
The libraries consist of the books, a bookcase, and a simple
cataloguing system. The libraries are staged in the United States and then
shipped to Honduras.
Books targeted for inclusion in the libraries are chosen using
resources such as “Guide to Foreign Language Children’s Books” at the
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and “Center for the Study of Books in
Spanish for Children and Adolescents” at California State University San
Marcos. We placed a priority on getting books about Honduras, including
children’s tales, history, and political analysis.
Sources for the books include book publishers (e.g.
Scholastic) and book distributors such as Ingram International.
The wooden shipping containers used to transport the books are
designed such that they can be easily reconfigured into bookcases to house the
books once they reach the community. The bookcase is built by reconfiguring the
wooden shipping containers used to protect the books during shipment. The
containers are designed such that no tools or special skills are needed to
reconfigure them into the bookcases.
A simple cataloguing system is provided with the library. This
allows the books to be checked out and tracked. This helps to teach the
responsibilities associated with a shared community resource. Books are
color-coded by age level. A specific member of the community has been
identified to oversee the operation of the library.
Each book contains a card pocket with a checkout card. When a book
is checked out, the checkout card is removed, signed by the person checking out
the book, stamped with the due date and stored in the charging tray. The empty
card pocket will also be stamped with the due date, letting the borrower know
when it is due.
Support Provided by CCD
CCD has committed their support to the project in three
ways. First, they will provide the transportation logistics support
needed to get the libraries from their point of entry into Honduras to the
destination community. Second, they will identify the communities that will be
served by the program and identify an individual within the community to
oversee the operation of the library. Finally, CCD will provide
administrative support to assist in the ongoing evaluation of the program.
Support Provided by Shandon United Methodist Church (SUMC)
“Reading is Power” is a sanctioned subcommittee within the SUMC
Commission on Outreach. SUMC has committed their support to the project in two
ways. First, as a nonprofit organization, SUMC will provide the financial
administration of the project. This will allow groups and individuals to make
tax-deductible contributions to the project. Second, SUMC will provide a pool
of volunteers to perform the physical processing of the books, including
putting in card pockets, applying title/author labels and color coded
labels signifying the books’ age level. They will also build the shipping
containers/bookcases and charging tray.
Support Provided by the Adaptec Foundation
The Adaptec Foundation has committed $7000 to be used for
the non-administrative expenses of the pilot project. This includes books,
library supplies, and library transportation costs. In addition Adaptec will
make available their international shipping and import/export expertise helping
to expedite the delivery of the initial library from Columbia, SC to
Current Project Status
The initial library was shipped from Columbia, SC on July 6, 2000.
It was delivered to the community of Las Lajas on July 27, 2000. The library
contains 1000 children’s books at 5 different reading levels. The library will
serve an estimated 200 families in the Choluteca region of Honduras, including
the communities of Las Lajas, El Estribo, 12 de Febrero, and Santa Catarina.