In Tipitapa, where clean drinking water and electricity are in short supply, one might think that books and learning materials are secondary, but when you see the impact of Rosa’s children’s lending library you realize this is not the case. The library is the only place where children can borrow a book, and for some it is the only opportunity to read at all. More than one parent told us that children who take out books each week and participate in group activities such as reading classes, repairing books and teaching others to read, are going to be the future leaders of the country – we know they’re right! What makes the library so important is that it is not just a place for education, it is also a safe haven where children can spend time with friends, learn about hygiene for better health, and a place where they can get moral support that they may not get at home. Our delegation brought five 50 lbs bags of school supplies and Spanish children's books, kindly donated by PS87, a public grade school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the children of Ciudadela San Martin. Given the success and demand for Rosa’s existing library, Rosa has started a small library here that serves handicapped children and the children who labor at the local dump.
The big day for the delivery arrived and we were told, “some children will be waiting for you”. As we approached the red gates of the school, a group of policemen stood in the street. Were they waiting for us? Our thoughts were soon confirmed as we turned into the school to see around 200 cheering children sitting in the sun with their teachers and parents. We were suddenly confronted with five times the children than we were expecting. Everyone was excited about the gifts from the students at PS87, but the idea of handing out the materials was now impossible – Rosa’s meticulous inventory of all supplies down to the last pencil for 30 children had to be rethought. She was also surprised, and remarked that as funds and resources have become scarcer, word travels fast around the communities, and parents (mostly mothers) do their best to provide educational goods for their children.
We thank our little New Yorkers at PS87 for contributing to Rosa’s dream of making education a reality for so many children, especially for handicapped children who are often forgotten, and are a source of shame for families in places like Nicaragua. Through school supplies and books, Rosa is able to show parents their children’s talent!