Bolivian Literacy Project
The Bolivian Literacy Project brought the first lending library to Bolivia, processed and catalogued books for on-site libraries, and distributed clothes and books. Through fundraisers, book drives, and collections they have provided vast quantities of these precious items and made a significant impact on the future of countless children and families.
The impact of projects like this one demonstrate how reading and education can help solidify the foundation of a community. This serves as inspiration and motivation to support the educational aspects of the TROLL Trust, Lucknow, and HEARTS Dr projects. Investing in education and the necessities for accessing it are crucial.
The Bolivian Literacy Project was started in 1996 by Janice Bellows Feaman and Maria Llobet Duff. As a librarian, reading consultant and mother, Janice realized the importance of reading skills for a child’s future. Janice found that the reading program developed by Renaissance Learning was particularly effective with her students. She and her library assistant Maria, a native Bolivian, asked how they could bring the gift of reading to students in Bolivia.
In May of 1996 they traveled to five cities in Bolivia to assess the feasibility of opening the first lending libraries in the country. With the 200 books and computer management reading program they brought with them, they were able to establish a school library at the Alexander Von Humboldt school for grades K – 12 in Sucre, Bolivia. In addition to the lending library, they cataloged and processed books for the Tanga Tanga Children’s Museum for a read-on-site library, also in Sucre.
In 1997 Ms. Feaman’s children held drives for Spanish language books at their elementary and high schools and were able to send 200 books to the Humboldt School Library. In 1998, the children held another successful book drive and traveled to Bolivia with their mother and Maria to deliver hundreds of books as well as thirteen cartons of clothing which they distributed to several children’s hospitals, a hospice and a rural school in the Sucre area.
During the summer of 2003 Janice, Maria and some of their families returned with hundreds of books as well as eleven cartons of clothing and medical supplies which were distributed to Sucre hospitals. Janice brought updates and software expansions for the reading program along with over 100 new titles to add to Humboldt’s existing library. They donated eighty books to the Tanga Tanga Children’s museum (which had acquired computers and was working on getting the reading program) and several dozen books to a school teaching English.
The Feaman’s distribution of clothing and books was publicized on Bolivian national television in an effort by local citizens. It was used to emphasize to youth the importance of community involvement and to show that everyone, even school aged children, can make a difference. Students have been an important part of the GRACE Cares team. We have a founder and project director who began working with us in High School. We have had even younger children who have organized fundraisers and projects. Age is not a barrier to compassion or the ability to improve the lives of others.
Grace Cares applauds Janice’s efforts in taking a personal approach to community development work and involving her family and friends. Her children learned about life outside of the United States and the gift of giving. GRACE Cares funds for this project were used to expand the libraries and replace the extensively used books from earlier deliveries, many having been read until the pages fell out or were too thin to turn. GRACE Cares also collected school supplies to continue contributing to the educational growth of the children of Bolivia.