Posts Tagged ‘library’

Bringing the Joy of Reading to Children in Cancun, by Julie Mowery, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

May 24, 2012

This month we rolled out MERC…our Mobile Education Resource Center.  We are so excited to see the kids participating in this program and are slowly building our library of books through contributions and gifts. We would also like to add other resources to the program, including educational games, manipulatives and laptops. Laptops would allow us to use educational software as another teaching tool, and to teach the kids computer skills.

Jorge (9) from Casa Hogar San Jose practices reading aloud.

Years and years of taking Eliza and Nick to the library and checking out tons of books is paying off in really neat ways.  Lending libraries are very rare in Mexico, and we do not have any in this area. We’ve been collecting books for the past few months and I really didn’t know how the kids would respond, but they love it!

Beti (9) was so excited about the new books that she couldn’t
decide which she wanted to check out.

In addition to allowing them to check out 2-3 books at a time, we also have read-aloud times, both one-on-one and in a large group. In addition to helping the kids learn to read and learn to enjoy good stories, it’s also a great time for teams to interact with the kids on a more personal level.

A mission trip participant reads to Beti

Sandy (14) is reading Loco Amor (Crazy Love) by Fancis Chan.

We are very excited about adding more resources to the MERC to expand the program. If you are interested in helping build our library, please contact the Back2Back home office.

 

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Prerequisites to Success, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 28, 2011

I’m sure that you’ve heard a million times that reading is fundamental to learning. Imagine a 3rd or 5th grader trying to tackle his math word problems for homework but has no idea what the problem is because he can’t read so he waits for you to read it to him and help him set up the math. This scene is far too common place for me to stomach sometimes. But orphans in orphanages don’t always get the amount of individualized attention they need to succeed academically. This is a huge deal when you consider that the ticket out for these kids is their education.

When I was little, my mom took me to the public library every single week to pick out all my favorite books. I recently tried to find my original copies of all my favorite childhood stories and realized that we never actually owned most of them but rather we just checked them out of the library over and over again. My mom read to me before bed. As I got older, she required that me and my siblings read for one hour every summer afternoon – like it or not. She was onto something here…

Day after day here at the institution I work at, seeing the night and day difference between my academic upbringing and the snip its of time orphans receive for reading instruction – if at all – got me thinking. Add to the situation the fact that public libraries in Mexico are a foreign concept for the kids.

I am in charge of different dorms of kids on different days so I decided about a year ago to start incorporating reading into my day with the boys. It was easy with the little guys because they love sitting in your lap and hearing a story read out loud but I was nervous about the 9 to 12 year old bunch. They have surprised me because they actually love it. They laugh as they comprehend funny parts of the stories. They smile. They don’t hate reading like I thought they would. We read out loud for 20 minutes. These 20 minutes which can sometimes go on for an hour when certain boys want to take their 20 minutes of reading individually by reading out loud to me is honestly my favorite part of my entire day with this dorm.

Many of the books that we read on a weekly basis have been donated my several of you. Thank you for shopping online or in bookstores for children’s books in Spanish. Thank you for donating to these childrens’ future.

Becoming President, by Gabo Velasco, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 7, 2011

When ten-year old Adrian was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded with “the president of Mexico.”  Martha, the director of Del Norte Children’s Home who posed the question, was impressed but knew what this would require of Adrian: the ability to read.  Martha made it clear to Adrian, that if he was really interested in being the president, he would have to read a lot.  From that moment on, you could count on finding Adrian tucked away in a nook somewhere in the Del Norte library reading one of the many books the library has to offer him. In fact, even a year after this conversation,Adriancan still be found in the library preparing for his presidency.

Adrian, enjoys a book at the library

With each visitor that arrives at Del Norte, we are certain to give them a tour of the library, emphasizing the importance of reading, encouraging each guest to spend an hour or so of their visit reading with a child.  Through this initiative we have seen the children’s reading skills improve, even finding their interest in reading growing as they now enjoy reading on their own.  Other local groups, individuals from churches and universities in the city who visit Del Norte are joining in these efforts, coming alongside the children as they develop their reading skills.  As we strive to improve the reading skills of the children, we are hopeful this will plant a seed, assisting in developing them to become successful youth and eventually successful adults.

The Joy of Reading, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 10, 2011

We recently completed remodeling the library at Casa Hogar Douglas. This children’s home for over seventy kids now has a very nice library made possible by a donation from The Rotary Club International and the tireless efforts of many of our ministry volunteers.

I recently read that 94% of the municipalities of Mexico don’t have a library. The reader index for Mexico is the lowest in Latin America. Back2Back is eager to help each child develop a love for reading and ultimately provide them with opportunities to improve academically. I am so excited that these kids will have an opportunity to benefit from the blessing this library will be!

The Joy of Reading, by Kim Wittkugel, Back2Back Mission Trip Guest

January 6, 2011

Our family has been involved with Back2Back for many years.  In 2000, our oldest child went on a school mission trip with Back2Back.  We were all able to go as a family in 2008.  As I served at the various children’s homes, I noticed that the children had little or no access to books. Trained as a reading specialist and elementary teacher, I realize the importance of reading to kids and access to books in a child’s literacy development.  As a mom, I witnessed the joy of reading to my kids and the excitement in their eyes as we explored the world through books.  And as an avid reader myself, I cherish the time I can spend with a good book.

I was saddened that the children living in the homes could not have these same experiences.  In the months that followed after I returned from my trip, I kept remembering all the children who I had met in Mexico that did not have access to books.  God was continuing to nudge my heart to do something.  Not knowing how exactly to help, I devoted some time to prayer.

In the months that followed, God sparked a solution that began with my kids.  Ben, who was in eighth grade, gathered 600 used books to donate to Back2Back.  My daughter, Erica, who was a senior in high school, organized a “literacy packet” drive with the Spanish classes at her school.  She collected 110 personalized packets consisting of a children’s book, writing materials, and a personal letter to each child.  My Bible study also sent packets down.  The next summer, Erica was able to deliver the packets when she served again on a school trip.

As I shared the literacy issue with my parents, they felt compelled to get involved.  My father is a long time member and leader in his local Rotary International group, the Rotary Club of West Seneca, New York.   Each year, they adopt an international project to support with a donation of $2,000.  I was able to visit the group and give a presentation on the literacy needs of the children that Back2Back serves.  Not only did Rotary International agree to donate the full $2,000, but they also offered a matching district grant and a private donation, bringing the total to $6,000.

At the same time, Martha, the director of Del Norte Children’s Home, an orphanage that Back2Back serves, was building a library for the children there, but she needed money for books.  We had a match!  The money donated by West Seneca Rotary was enough to provide books for the library, allowing Martha to fulfill her dream of a library for the children at Del Norte.

This past March, Erica and I traveled to Mexico to paint a mural on the library wall.  It was exciting to see the room where the library was going to be.  Erica felt honored to contribute to the project by creating a mural.  Now, with the library open, I am so thankful that the children have a beautiful place to escape with a good book!

The Del Norte Library

Kim, spending time reading in the new library

Just this past week, I learned that the Rotary Club of West Seneca, NY has approved an additional $2,000 donation towards a library at another children’s home where Back2Back serves, Douglas Children’s Home.  Once again, a private donation was given with the possibility of a matching Rotary district grant.  The project continues!  More books allowing more children to discover the joy of reading!

While I was in Mexico, I saw the lack of literacy opportunities for the children, but I felt that there was not much that I could do.  The need seemed too great.  After I returned home, God continued to put the children on my mind and heart, and I knew that I had to listen.  Back2Back staff member, Beth Guckenberger, gave me some great advice, which I clung to: take one step at a time and wait for God to show you the next step.  And that is exactly what I did. I began by taking the first step with getting my children involved and then God has ordered the steps that led us to a Rotary partnership.  This partnership has provided the resources needed to begin to give the children in the homes an opportunity to improve their literacy and escape into a good book.

Del Norte Library, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 8, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to help Erica and Kim paint a mural at the new Casa Hogar Del Norte Children’s Home library addition. They did a fantastic job! Here are a few pictures to show the day by day progress of that week:

If you have ever served with us in Monterrey and visited this children’s home, you’d remember it no doubt. It is the one that looks sort like it’s out of some imaginary world – one where the kids have trampolines, a HUGE auditorium, outdoor kitchen, homework rooms, a bakery, music rooms, a computer lab and now a huge second story library with outdoor patio. And to top it off, the woman who is the director of this home started the orphanage in her RETIREMENT. This home screams from every direction that God is actively blessing those children, He will hear them, come to them, lift them up, make them a home, give them food and clothing, execute true justice for them and all the other promises that God has made in scripture to the orphan child. And to top it off – those scriptures are actually physically written on the walls in case you missed the obvious.

Why a library? Martha, the director of the home, was in the states visiting a church in Texas last year and saw their children’s ministry area complete with a children’s library. You know what they usually look like – bean bags, colorful carpets, fun art on the walls, tons of books, a few computers, etc. She asked the Americans she was with if the kids liked this kind of library. Martha was a bit amazed at the idea that reading could be fun. You see, in Mexico, the average school aged child reads one book a year. In the states – the average is not much better but at least it’s at twelve books a year. The kids here very much so associate reading with punishment.

But Martha, a woman of VISION, got another vision for her children’s home and thus, the library addition began. We sat down with her and asked her on camera why she wanted a library for her children – she said something that I was not in the least expecting.  She said, “So the children will know who is God.”

Her reason for everything she does for the children was so that the kids would look around at the orphanage they live in and think, “This place is different. Why is this place so different?” And the answer would involve the reality of how much God passionately loves them and is caring for them. Pretty much NO ONE, no orphanage, no local civic center, nowhere has a children’s library and if they do – it won’t begin to compare to what Martha is building. And the reason is so that the kids might know who God is.

Listening to her testimony of the children on the streets that Martha would see everyday many years ago and how she made a decision to care for them which ultimately led to the children’s home Back2Back serves today, it was all I could do to not just cry. Martha is incredibly humble. I’ve never met anyone like her. But what really gave me the chills that day was that she is BELIEVING on faith that the new directors of that home, whoever they will be, and she needs new leadership because she is really old, WILL BE ABLE TO BETTER CARE FOR THE KIDS THAN SHE CAN. After hearing WHY she was building a library, I was shocked. But hearing that Martha honestly believes that God will provide new leadership to follow in her footsteps that will do far greater things than she has been able to – will forever be imprinted on my mind. If you’ve ever met Martha, maybe you can understand a bit of my surprise at hearing this. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone as AWESOME, strong, determined, full of faith, dedicated, gentle, sweet natured, kind, generous and passionate as Martha.

I want to believe the best is yet to come like Martha does. Don’t you?