Lake Atitlan Libraries News - November, 2008

Happy Holidays,

Thanks for your support last year. We are happy to report on the results that our Guatemalan partners, the Asociacion Biblioteca Panajachelense Y Regional (ABP) and their leader, Richard Adams, achieved with your donations and a grant from the Daniele Agostino Derossi Foundation, which funds projects to improve the lives of indigenous people in Guatemala.

Subscribe to the LAL newsletterIn October, 2008, Richard with the help of members of ABP, purchased and distributed the 1,193 middle school textbooks. These young women are teachers from Chuiatzam, one of the 15 schools that received the books this year. The teachers are elated to have these textbooks because they improve their ability to teach and the ability of the students to learn. Richard reports that there are 30 more rural Basicos (middle schools) around Lake Atitlan still needing basic textbooks. Each school costs about $1,000-$1,300 to provide a set of basic textbooks. With your help we can provide more schools with basic textbooks in 2009.

We purchase 3 copies of the text books for each of their courses. That way we can spread the books to more schools. The schools are developing places to keep the books so that students can share them when they do their homework. Before getting the books, many students traveled for an hour or more to other regional libraries to find the resources they needed to be successful in school. Using books as part of the school day is a big leap for these small indigenous schools. It helps these middle school students continue their education beyond elementary school.

When I was in Guatemala last February I was able to visit the Basicos in the village of Maria del Carmen. They received funding from your gifts of the previous year. This Basico is only three years old and for now they use the primary school classrooms for teaching. While most of the Solola region speaks Kakchiquel, the people in this village speak Mayan Quiche. It is way up above Lake Atitlan, in a cloud forest. The primary school has 300 students in grades 1-6. Since many students do not progress beyond primary, the Basicos has only 32 students in grades 7-9. Parents are very involved in creating and maintaining this school. They need to pay about $5/month for tuition. I met two of the six teachers. Elise and Antonio were raised in the village and lived away from home to complete their Basicos and normal school education to become teachers. In a Mayan religious ceremony, the students thanked all of us. We hope the use of books will attract more students to continue to this next level so that this Mayan village will have more future leaders with a better education.

We are sad to report, that Bill Cherry, one of our LAL founders and husband of Ann Cameron, died of an aggressive lung cancer at his home in Portland, Oregon in July. Bill used his many talents to make the library in Panajachel a model for Central America. For many years he helped produce and mail this annual letter, kept track of donations and spending for the library, set up and maintained computers in the Library, and even secured and installed the bar code system for all its books. He loved to read and he supported the librarians in their important work in what ever way he could. His dedication inspired us all. We will miss him. Ann has established a web site that you can visit for more details about his life and/or leave messages for Ann.

Please mail your tax deductible donations to

Lake Atitlan Libraries
449 Overlook Pass
Hudson, WI 54016
All donations go directly to purchase textbooks.

Thanks again for your support from the LAL Board!

Lousise Eidsmoe, Secretary LAL

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