Our year end event
Last friday, A Mano Manaba received people from the community to share children's work and celebrate the end of the year. Wonderful and inspiring moments with parents and neighbours, as well as beautiful lights in the eyes of the kids happy to show their safe place in Don Juan marked the day as one of a kind. This operation will be conducted again every year, with the house even more open than every other day at the library.
To help A Mano Manaba's work with the Don Juan community : https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/library-bus-for-northern-manabi-coast-ecuador/
Rut Roman, founder, tells how she felt those particular moments in the story of the project
That afternoon, Pancho (7) and I were "playing with words'' as we usually do. He's been struggling with his reading skills so we cut out paper and play concentration games before playing with the sounds letters make, putting them together, so they turn into words... It's a lot of fun, it's never menacing and it's a very effective way to teach a child to read. That afternoon, in the middle of the session, Clemencia, a young volunteer from Switzerland (9) swiftly went by saying "come on Pancho, it's time for music rehearsal". I had been away several days so I didn't know what this was about. As Anita summoned everyone to the garden, the Library was emptied and everybody was gathered in the garden: each one with a musical instrument ready for the rehearsal.
It turns out, they were preparing for the Open House event they had decided to host as a year end occasion to invite parents to the Library so they could see their kid´s achievements. Margaux, a wonderful volunteer from France, had a detailed plan: meditation opening; welcoming words; reading presentations, music and dance and family group contests, along with posters and displays of our ongoing projects. When I saw the rigorous planning spreadsheet I seriously doubted it could be done: the logistics of the Open House event required a group of children used to discipline, standardization and obedience, definitively not our crowd! I thought to myself, but went along with the preparations.
You see, we have always offered loosely structured programs from which children choose according to their interests. Our daily routine is always open to change, depending on who our volunteers are at the moment, a changing seasonal population comes to work and learn with them. Children come on their own volition, nobody makes them come, nothing restrains them from leaving. Our main effort and pride is offering our young patrons occasion for self assertiveness by exercising their power to decide. A child will learn only when she decides to... only in a safe atmosphere, she commits to her own learning process and thrives as a result of her personal decision.
Open House day came, as everyone else, I followed Margaux's call: as I directed the meditation, I was surprised when everybody -children and parents alike- sat in profound silence and total stillness while appeasing their minds in order to feel the inner energy of their bodies. The program continued with a welcoming address about the spirit of the event: we were gathered to value the progress these children had achieved during this difficult period, while schools remain closed and distant learning shows its flaws, they have decided to take their education in their own hands. Oriana (8) who recently learned to write and read (in this order) proudly read a couple of short stories from the book she continues to write. Juan José (10) was able to overcome his shyness and team read with Jaime (9) and Xavier (8) from their favorite story book. Each and every one took the stand to recite a poem, read a tale or offer an oral tradition. When music and dance presentations came, Max (11) led the girls in choreography and this led to a talent parade of all sorts: capoeira, singing and playing.
Throughout the whole event children followed directions in an orderly fashion, always eager to show how their self determination was respected in the Library, and how this is important for their upcoming personality. You could hear "look mom, this is what I do, when I come to the Library" as they strolled through the poster and photography exhibit.
This year end event was a huge success: it demonstrated the power of openness: open doors, open house has enhanced the level of commitment and appropriation the children take over their Library. I want to share with you my happiness and pride over this project you protect and let you know that we are running smoothly over profound tracks you have helped to trace.