Juanita’s small home smelled of pine. She and her parents had strewn pine needles on the floor, a traditional Guatemalan sign of welcome for honored guests. Juanita and her parents welcomed us into their spare home, expressing gratitude for NFE supplying Juanita with her own computer and regular tutor. Standing about three feet tall, Juanita’s beauty shines through her disability.
The family presented a Mayan weaving embroidered with the words: “May the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you forever” to Al Lopus, a returning team member who had mentored Juanita. As Juanita showed us her work, she shared a poster on which she had written her three main goals: to teach her parents to read and write, to write her own story, and to help young people in her village.
We saw that Juanita is already accomplishing the last of these goals. She runs a tiny tienda (store) at the street side of her parent’s property. As well as selling snacks and school supplies, Juanita has a small lending library for the children of her village! Her one wooden shelf holds about 20 books, among them Spanish versions of Green Eggs and Ham and Charlotte’s Web.
One of Juanita’s books is titled Frida, a biography of artist Frida Kahlo. Becci Merrit told me that NFE gave this book to Juanita thinking she might identify with Kahlo’s pain and her artistic expressions of that pain. Juanita tells us that the children are good to return the books she loans. Earlier in the trip, I had led workshops explaining the importance of reading and the research finding that children need to spend about two hours a day actually reading. The problem here: there are few books, and in their schools, most books are locked up. NFE plans to expand Juanita’s library, to fill up her shelf and add more shelves.
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Nicolás Fund for Education is grateful for our long, wonderful relationship with BelPres. Do you want to join an NFE Adventure in the future? For more information, see the website, or contact Becci Merritt, 425-557-4204, or email@example.com, or come to our October 3 dessert at BelPres.