Today’s post comes to us from Cate Carlyle, the Curriculum Resource Centre Coordinator, from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. We applaud her adventures and sharing this wonderful piece with us of her experience volunteering abroad.
Go for Hope International is a nonprofit organization supporting the development of children’s libraries in Nicaragua. The group leverages donations, pen pal programs, and service-learning trips to provide resources and support for children in Nicaragua.
My partner and I recently returned from a service trip to Ometepe Nicaragua with Go for Hope’s founder, Joe Hafner, and three other volunteers. While I have volunteered in other countries and libraries in Central America, the lush vegetation and sheer beauty of this volcanic island took me by surprise. Despite visiting during the rainy season, our group traveled to schools on the island delivering supplies and offering programming for school children. One school was so remote it required an hour hike through the muddy jungle led by the teacher carrying a string of freshly caught tilapia for our lunch. While reading is taught in the schools and literacy rates are considered acceptable, reading for pleasure is not generally a part of the Nicaraguan culture. Go for Hope is currently considering the introduction of a bookmobile and mobile libraries as a means of introducing and reinforcing a reading culture in the area.
While in the coastal town of San Juan del Sur our group visited the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca, the first community library in Nicaragua. We were introduced to American expat Jane Mirandette, the founder of the library and a force to be reckoned with. Since founding the library in 2001 Jane has also introduced a mobile project which visits approximately 34+ communities, and the “Library in a Box” program creating and serving dozens of lending programs throughout Central America and Peru. Jane’s passion and commitment shone through as she described the collection, the bookmobile and programming for special needs patrons.
Volunteering internationally never fails to remind me of the beauty in the world, and of all that I have to be thankful for. Having the opportunity to cross paths with people like Joe and Jane always inspires me and makes me so proud of our international LIS community and all that we do every day in all corners of the world.