Tropical Storm Agatha destroyed the dirt road to Chuialajquiajquix, but it didn’t stop the books from getting through. The village, which is as hard to reach as it is to pronounce, lies in a remote region of Guatemala, near the highland town of Santa Lucía Utatlán. It is accessible only by a steep, treacherous road.
In August, 2011, Child Aid launched its Books to Villages program in the area to enable a local librarian to deliver donated books to four neighboring communities. The schools in these villages, including Chuialajquiajquix, have virtually no relevant books available for students, and literacy rates in the region are appallingly low.
“Our plan was to fill the boxes with children’s books and drive them up to Chuialajquiajquix,” says John van Keppel, Child Aid’s program director in Guatemala. “But when we got there, we discovered the road had been destroyed by landslides.”
Even when the road is passable, Chuialajquiajquix is too far from Santa Lucía for children to hike to the library on a regular basis. So Child Aid worked with Santa Lucía’s librarian to create the Books to Villages program, allowing teachers in primary school classrooms to borrow up to 30 books at a time to use in their classrooms. Once the boxes were loaded in Santa Lucía, the librarian had intended to deliver them to schools on the back of his motorcycle. That was the plan, anyway.