In the past decade, reading had become “self-care” (as millennials like to label everything), an individual activity that “sparked joy.” I have always spent hours and hours reading on the metro while commuting to the university and work, relaxing in my backyard on a warm summer day, or on the beach waiting for my next swim. I am a lover of historical nonfiction, stories of war and struggle, not something most people like to sit over coffee to chat about, so I never shared my reading journey with anyone.
Visiting the bright and colorful Crecemos’ libraries took me back to many years ago when I was still not able to decipher letters and my parents would sit with me for what seemed like hours and read stories. As a child, you are fascinated by the illustrations and rhythm of peculiar children’s books, almost as if stories were songs. Most importantly, what I remember about these moments is the closeness with my parents. These were the moments when they would take time after work and the countless chores to be with me and and lull me with stories of princesses, insects, heroes- transporting us, together, all into beautiful imaginary worlds.
As we were visiting one of these “bibliotecas” around the state of Oaxaca, one of the teachers told us that these are places where parents have the opportunity to learn how to read to their children. In towns where fathers are not expected to be present for their children, as many migrate to the United States searching for new opportunities or spend most of their time outside of the house, Crecemos’ teachers educate them on the beauty and value of investing in family time by bonding through books. Reading, therefore, becomes a virtuous practice that promotes healthier child development processes and social cohesion. As I think of the children who have access to these libraries, I can only smile in hope that they too can grow in a caring environment, where books are a synonym for love.
Born in 1993, CRECEMOS translated as “Growing Together”, is a community-based organization that has served the academic, nutritional, and social needs of the community in the semi-urban and rural areas near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico with dedication, intelligence, and hope.
Today, Crecemos serves roughly 500 children and their families every year with a wide range of programs and services. We, at AVSI-USA, are very committed to a long-term partnership with Crecemos’ mission by supporting their capacity-building efforts along the path toward greater financial sustainability and broadening the impact of their work via a donor network called OPPORTUNITY.