NATIK PARTNER:
PUERTA ABIERTA TRAVELING LIBRARY

The World Opens Wide With Every Turn of the Page

 

Books are rare in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. Learning to read or being read to is also rare. Many schools have no books at all. 

Since 2011, Natik has supported the Puerta Abierta (“Open Door”) Traveling Library to share books with people who are least likely to have them. Through this program, every week, traveling librarians take the joy of reading and creative learning techniques to nine rural Santiago community schools. In addition, they coordinate a weekly teen reading program, and visit a local senior center. 

Every day, our traveling librarians fill a bag with books from the Puerta Abierta School Library and travel to rural villages outside of Santiago Atitlán, riding on the back of a local transport pick-up truck. During every classroom visit, librarians read a book out loud, coordinate an art project related to the theme of that day’s book, facilitate quiet individual reading, and lead light-hearted interactive singing with the students and teachers. 

During recreation period, the librarians replace the previous week’s books with new ones, and the children eagerly spend their play time exploring the new books and reading out loud to one another.


Natik funds the Puerta Abierta Traveling Library, which reaches over 900 children and seniors every week.


Teens participate in book clubs, reading and talking about a featured book. Book themes are carefully chosen by the librarians to include a variety of complex social, cultural, moral, spirtitual, and political issues that invite thoughtful sharing and animated debates among the teens and librarians. 

The library also visits a local senior center. Many of the seniors never learned to read or had the opportunity to create art for their own pleasure. The Traveling Library applies the same learning techniques and exercises used with the younger children.

Santiago Atitlán is a Tz’utujil Mayan community nestled in the folds of an ancient volcano on the shores of Lake Atitlán of western Guatemala. The Mayans inhabited this region for several millennia before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. In the 1980s, the Guatemalan army killed or “disappeared” hundreds of villagers because of the presence of left-wing guerrillas in the area. The violent years of civil war between 1960 and 1996 were a prelude to the devastating landslides caused by Hurricane Stan in 2005. Understandably, their recent history has left deep psychological and economic scars on the residents of Santiago. Today, their primary sources of income are artisan crafts for tourists, canoe construction, and coffee exports.

Santiago Atitlán is a Tz’utujil Mayan community nestled in the folds of an ancient volcano on the shores of Lake Atitlán of western Guatemala. The Mayans inhabited this region for several millennia before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. In the 1980s, the Guatemalan army killed or “disappeared” hundreds of villagers because of the presence of left-wing guerrillas in the area. The violent years of civil war between 1960 and 1996 were a prelude to the devastating landslides caused by Hurricane Stan in 2005. Understandably, their recent history has left deep psychological and economic scars on the residents of Santiago. Today, their primary sources of income are artisan crafts for tourists, canoe construction, and coffee exports.