Guatemala update

Check out our video to see what we’re up to in Guatemala!

We recently shipped a large box of books, tablets, and educational materials to one of our partners at a school in Quetzaltenango (known locally as Xela). Schools are currently closed, but teachers continue to teach online. The school year will end soon, but the school director, Jorge, has already expressed his gratitude for the tablets. He anticipates having to continue with online schooling for the unforeseeable future.

We continue to collect books in Spanish for the homework help center in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, which we are helping to organize into a community library. Check out our Amazon wishlist for Guatemala and donate a book today. 

The pandemic has not stopped the work; we continue to plan for our programs. Donate at paypal.me/LibrariesForTheWorld to help us build a brighter future for children around the world.

Roofing complete

The roofing is now complete on the library in Uganda! Rain interfered and slowed down some of the work, plus construction crews dealt with bouts of malaria and restrictions due to the pandemic. But workers persevered and completed construction last week. The next phase of construction involves installing doors and windows.

One of our goals is to help children stay in school when their families cannot afford to tuition, uniforms, and supplies. While students are not in school at the moment due to the pandemic, they will eventually return to school. Many families have been earning little to no income during the lockdown, so many children will not be able to return to school. If you are interested in sponsoring a child’s education, please email us at info@librariesfortheworld.org. School is not free for children in Uganda. Primary school generally costs less than secondary school, and tuition and other costs usually come to less than $600 per year. Those costs are paid per quarter, not all at once.

Donations in general are being directed toward construction, so if you’d like to sponsor a child’s education, please make a note with the donation. Online donations can be made thru PayPal, but you can also send a check to: Libraries for the World, PO Box 1331, Round Rock TX 78680.

E-fair with Usborne Books & More

We’re having a book fair! Help us acquire beautiful children’s nonfiction books published by Usborne Books & More. There are 3 ways to get involved:

  1. Purchase books for yourself at https://x8428.myubam.com/1678892. Fifty percent of the sales price will be matched by Usborne, allowing us to purchase books.
  2. Purchase and donate books from our wish list at https://x8428.myubam.com/wishlist/867e0c63-82df-424f-9a66-abf700fd31fa.
  3. Donate funds for us to purchase books from Usborne by filling out this form: https://forms.gle/UKMHkkunJrGaGZso6.

Thank you for all of your support! None of this work would be possible without people like you stepping up and helping to create this library.

Roof work is almost complete!

Thanks to a generous donation from Highpoint Fellowship of Cedar Park, roof work on the library in Uganda has restarted. This last phase of roof construction should be complete within the week. This work is helping some workers earn some badly needed income during this difficult economic crisis due to the pandemic.

We have begun receiving book donations! A book bin has been set up in the front lobby at Highpoint, but many others are choosing to purchase books through Amazon from our book wish list. We’re very excited to begin processing these books and boxing them up for shipment to Uganda.

Please donate, either books or funds, to help with the creation of this library. The next phase of construction will involve installing doors and windows. Thanks for your help!

Pandemic lockdown continues

Because Abwanget is so close to the border with Kenya, which has a larger number of COVID cases than Uganda, the lockdown and curfew continues. Schools are still closed, and many teachers haven’t been paid since February. The government is conducting school lessons over the radio, but that can be a problem in the rural villages, where homes seldom have electricity. Once the batteries die, so does the radio!

People are still struggling to meet basic needs during the lockdown. Many children have been forced to help their families by selling items on the streets while their parents tend the family gardens and fields. The area has had much rain, at times too much, destroying many roads, houses, and gardens. Denis has been keeping young men busy by making bricks with the mud left from the rainstorms.

Making bricks after a rainstorm

The pandemic has made life more difficult for the people of Uganda. Please continue to donate so that we can help put people back to work, allowing them to earn an income and feed their families.

Photo by Denis Okiru

Life during the pandemic

Life has been different for the past six weeks. Work at the library in Uganda has stopped as people shelter in place. Uganda has some of the strictest restrictions on movement in the world. No public or private transportation is allowed, so even trips to the grocery store are made on foot. With markets and most businesses closed for weeks now, it has been next to impossible for people to earn income. People are running out of food and money. The number of COVID cases in Uganda is relatively small, but easing restrictions could lead to more COVID cases in a country whose healthcare system could easily become overwhelmed.

Denis’ community is doing its part to slow down the spread of the disease. Most homes do not have running water, so the community has set up a handwashing station with soap for villagers to use. They are also staying home as much as possible and like everywhere else around the world, trying to keep their children entertained. The government has been delivering school lessons via television and radio, but this is a challenge in Denis’ village since most homes have no electricity or TV. Radios use dry cells, so once the batteries run out, the radios die. Our future plans for the community center and library include setting up solar panels so that the villagers can have access to information through computers.

Uganda has had a lot of rain this spring, so without the roofing panels installed, the foundation of the building got wet. Now that the rains have subsided, the building is drying out. Our goal is to have the roofing panels installed as soon as the lockdown ends so that the rains will not permanently damage the building. Please donate if you can. Times are difficult for many people right now, but others of us are fortunate to still have our jobs and to be able to work remotely. Many of us have been able to continue feeding our families and have stayed safe and healthy. Donating funds now will allow Denis to finish purchasing the iron sheets for the roof and will help put villagers to work once the lockdown ends, allowing them to earn income to feed their families once again. – DC

COVID-19 pandemic

How things have changed over the past couple of weeks! Uganda is in a very precarious place right now. President Museveni has implemented tight restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Uganda’s healthcare system is not equipped for this pandemic. There are only 55 ICU beds in the entire country. That means 55 ventilators for a population of over 44 million!

Most people do not have access to clean water in their homes. There’s not enough hand sanitizer to go around. Denis has said that people are scared. They know that fighting off the contagious and aggressive virus will be difficult if a large outbreak occurs. To add misery to the fear, torrential rains have ruined many crops. And just today, people began looting in Kampala, the capital. Many people live day-to-day, and some families are already worried about food shortages as businesses and retail stores shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. Public transportation has also been shut down; most people do not own vehicles but rely on bodas (motorcycle taxis) to get around. Because so much business has been shut down, people are already struggling to earn an income. If the tight restrictions continue, people will run out of food and money very quickly. Denis has requested your prayers for the people of his country. He also foresees food shortages for many families whose crops have been ruined.

Some positive stories from the past several weeks: Women in the village get together every Thursday to consolidate their money and make loans to each other . The women’s cooperative is named “Aimoro Ichani,” which means “Sharing poverty.” They are currently saving money to purchase piglets for everyone in the group.

The women of Tororo celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. Female students marched in their school uniforms and the women of the district wore their best dresses for the celebration.

In the book “The Moment of Lift,” Melinda Gates discusses the transformations that can happen in society when we empower women. Our hope is that the community center and library will hold programs to empower women and serve as a gathering place to lift up women and children, which in turn will improve the future of everyone in the community. – DC

Guatemala partnership

We’ve entered into a partnership with Creating Opportunities for Guatemalans and are seeking hardcover books in Spanish to expand a homework help center in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The town has a large indigenous Maya population, but many of the people speak Spanish. Most of the books that have been donated to the center are written in English, which many of the students are learning, but the goal is to turn the center into a community library for all people in the town. Books should be in hardcover for all ages, but books for children and teens are especially welcome. Visit our Amazon wishlist for Guatemala for ideas and donate a book today!

Sponsoring a teen’s education

Over the past week, we have worked on finding educational sponsors for Samuel, a student who wanted to attend secondary school but whose grandmother could not afford tuition. Two librarian friends quickly offered to sponsor his education for the year!

Samuel started school today, accompanied by his grandmother. Together we’re making a difference in the lives of children. There are more children who need sponsors for their education, so if you’re interested, please contact us.

The church Highpoint Fellowship in Cedar Park has agreed to help us by funding some of the cost of construction of the center, helping with the acquisition and processing of books, and helping with other aspects of the work. This project is not religious in nature, but it does bring us some relief to know that we will have help in completing the work.

Thank you for your generous support! – DC