Saturday, February 27, 2010

Columbia's Biblioburro

CNN recently ran this story about Columbian primary school teacher Luis Soriano, who has spent close to 4,000 hours riding his biblioburro (lit. "book-donkey") to remote villages to reach the thousands of Columbian children who are unable to attend school.

Make sure to visit CNN to watch the short video about Soriano.

From the story:

"More than 4,000 youngsters have benefited from Soriano's program since it began in 1990. Soriano says countless others have been helped, too; parents and other adult learners often participate in the lessons.

Soriano has spent nearly 4,000 hours riding his donkeys, and he's not traveled unscathed. In July 2008, he fractured his leg when he fell from one of the donkeys; in 2006, he was pounced on by bandits at a river crossing and tied to a tree when they found out he had no money. Despite these injuries, which left him with a limp, Soriano has no intention of slowing down.

In addition to the biblioburro program, he and his wife built the largest free library in Magdalena next to their home. The library has 4,200 books, most of which are donated -- some from as far away as New York City. They also run a small community restaurant."

With Freedom to Read Week winding down, a story like this can remind us all of how fortunate we are in Canada to have the unfettered access we do to libraries and education, and can prompt us to find anything within our power to improve access to information for people who do not enjoy the same levels of freedom and access we do. As an example, check out Guatemala's PROBIGUA project, which operates 2 mobile libraries and spearheads literacy projects. You can even pay a nominal fee to stay with a local family and attend Spanish language classes, with all proceeds going to the mobile libraries. As a bonus, the classes will prepare you to ride along in the mobile library!

If you're interested in seeing more, you can check out Remote Access: Distant Libraries of the World from your local library or you can watch segments of it here.

image courtesy of

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