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Volunteering At Jatun Nani – A Rural Library Project Close To Heaven

by on May 22, 2012

in Peru, Volunteering

Welcome To The Yauya Library

Welcome To The Yauya Library

As I mentioned in my post about Yauya, I ended up here thanks to a friend of mine from my MBA. But I had no idea what to expect other than being completely off the grid. What I found in Yauya stunned me and, in the words of the Indonesian Guru from Eat, Pray, Love, “made my liver smile.”

It took a little while to get a handle on what Jatun Nani is doing in Yauya. Started in 2005 by inspirational founder Consuelo Pasco, she is focusing on leveling the playing field between the children in the village of her birth and the children in cities. As a retired educator, her approach is to focus on books.

Inside The Library

Inside The Library

To start with, Consuelo started a library in Yauya. It has a special section for children to come and read and enjoy interactive learning opportunities. There is also a section for adults and books about tons of topics.

Consuelo calls her initiative “atrapando el mundo en parablas” or “capturing the world in words.” There are five components that you can read about in detail here in Spanish or here Google Translated to English.

But this initiative has six components:

  • Using the library as a learning, reading, and entertainment center
  • Taking books to rural schools and lending them out (traveling library)
  • Providing materials for mom and baby to start the learning and bonding process together (pre-school at home)
  • Teaching the teachers to be more effective educators
  • Cultural exchange
  • Dissemination to help other communities and attract more resources

School Libraries

Consuelo has the library up and running successfully in Yauya, but many people live an hour or two from the center of town. Accessing the library is quite difficult.

So she has focused on installing libraries in each of the 15 elementary/primary schools in Yauya. Doing so would put books in reach of all the little hands eager to read and learn.

As of now there are libraries in four of the 15 schools. She is working on attracting book donations to fill the other 11 school libraries.

The Children's Room

The Children's Room

The Children's Room

The Children's Room

Radio Yauya

While in Yauya I had the good fortune of being interviewed by the radio station. It was the first time I ever spoke Spanish in front of an audience, but I think it went pretty well.

The interviewer and I went over the questions he’d ask me ahead of time, but during the interview he asked the first one and then the rest was off the cuff. I wanted to know the questions ahead of time to make sure I understood everything, but all turned out fine. The only bad thing was that he’d throw three or four questions at me at once and that was too much to handle – in English or in Spanish.

Below is the interview where I talked about my impressions of Yauya, how I intended to help Jatun Nani, and more.

My Role

The Library From The Outside

The Library From The Outside

Unfortunately, due to my stomach problems, I wasn’t able to be out much in the community. I had planned to visit schools, talk to kids, talk to the teachers, and just generally be active in the community.

Instead, I focused on trying to connect Jatun Nani with the English-speaking world. I reached out to numerous organizations in the US and Europe to ask about donations. I want to help Consuelo fill those 11 elementary school libraries!

I tried to get in touch with the media to attract attention to what Jatun Nani is doing. I achieved this indirectly by landing an interview based on my time in Peru and sharing what Jatun Nani is doing there. I also promoted them when I spoke to Centrum Business School in Lima. I promoted the idea of them doing a summer internship with Jatun Nani, which would be December-February.

I also got in touch with my business school to see about setting up an internship between an MBA student focused on social entrepreneurship and the NGO world and Jatun Nani. It’d be a wonderful experience for such a student, and I got the ball rolling on setting that up. They’d help out June-August.

An intern could spend two to three months on-site and really use his or her business training to help bridge the gap between this remote village and the outside world. Then return to business school with an amazing experience under his or her belt, and also something great for the resume/CV.

Close To Heaven

Yauya - Close To Heaven

Yauya - Close To Heaven

I said that this library is close to heaven because at 3250m/2 miles high, Yauya is close to heaven (or at least closer to the sky than most places on earth). In Spanish, heaven and sky are the same word – cielo. That makes sense to me now.

I have met many inspirational people on my trip. I love Consuelo’s story though. She grew up in Yauya, left and started a new life in Lima, and is now dedicating a lot of her post-retirement attention to improving the quality of life in Yuaya based on her passion of education.

Needless to say, her life is full of purpose and she’s determined to succeed.

One afternoon I was working in the library on obtaining donations, Consuelo was having a meeting with some teachers from a rural school, and little kids were playing in the children’s room.

A little girl appeared and had a small book in her hand called “Cuentos Peruanos” or “Peruvian Stories.” She was checking it out to take home and read. It was just one of those moments where time stands still and your emotions take a roller coaster ride. It was just so pure, so wonderful, and so representative of what Consuelo has done here in Yauya.

Fantastic.

I thank her kindly for allowing me to spend a few days getting to experience her energy and awesomeness and I’ll be continuing to help Jatun Nani when I have time going forward on my trip.

Me And Consuelo

Me And Consuelo

Want To Help?

If you’d like to help Jatun Nani succeed, you can donate money (they are a registered Peruvian NGO), help to find books in Spanish for donation, or anything else you can think of. Write to them in Spanish, or write to me in English.

About Adam Pervez

In mid-2011 I left my cushy corporate job and took the plunge into a life incorporating my passions of traveling, writing, volunteering, learning, educating, and telling stories. I study what happiness means to others, offer what I can from my engineering/MBA background as a volunteer, and try to leave each place better than how I found it. Read more.

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