The Mariposa funds a variety of community projects throughout La Concha and the surrounding area. In the barrio of Santiago, a suburb just outside of La Concha proper, Paulette has recently undertaken yet another project, this time promoting children’s literacy.
In 2007 Save the Children, an international NGO, partnered with Libros Para Niños, a private non-profit, to start up a Reading Corner for primary school children. The Reading Corner is an after-school program that works, in the words of Libros Para Niños, “to plant the love of books and reading in youth.” Together these organisations financed the program for six months, then began to share the responsibility of funding with the local government. In March 2010, Save the Children cut funding. The mayor of La Concha could not afford to maintain the program without the support of these organisations, and a representative from Save the Children informed us that the school would be closing. With an understanding of the importance of the Reading Corner in the future of the children in Santiago, La Mariposa assumed responsibility for the salary of the teacher. Libros Para Niños continues to provide books, and the volunteers and visitors here at the hotel donate materials and supplies.
Janet, the teacher at the Reading Corner, shared her thoughts on the recent turn of events. She says that in a community like Santiago, where few people enjoy reading for pleasure, and school aged children are virtually abandoned because their parents work fourteen-hour days, the importance of a program like the Reading Corner cannot be undervalued. The students spend their afternoons reading and are encouraged to borrow books to share with their families. On Saturdays, two volunteers from an art school in Jinotepe teach students the basics of painting and drawing, exposing a world of creativity they might otherwise never know. Most of the children in this community will not make it beyond primary school, so they extra help they can get now has exponential benefits for the future.
There exist a plethora of projects like this one all over Nicaragua that struggle every day for funding. For a personal account on the importance of the Reading Corner, a Mariposa volunteer Sukru has written an entry under the volunteer blog page. His story provides insight to the influence this program has on the children of Santiago.