IBBY Children in Crisis: Chile
IBBY Chile 2010
WORDS TO KEEP YOU COMPANY
The earthquake in Chile in early 2010 caused widespread individual and social damage. IBBY National Section and Corporación Lectura Viva [Reading Promotion Corporation] are collaborating in the Palabras que acompañan [Words to Keep you Company] programme to deliver books and reading sessions to help relieve trauma in children and young people who are facing the loss of their loved ones and their homes, who have been injured or who have been forced to move in with friends and family.
As a result, children are experiencing anguish, anxiety and disruptions in their families and their regular social life. We believe that reading is essential in times of crisis as a means to overcome adversity, to foster change in people’s lives and to help them reconstruct their reality.
The project is aimed at:
· Kindergarten-age children through to 14-year-old youngsters living in communities that had already been in crisis and have now been affected by the February earthquake in Chile.
The project will:
· provide children and young people who have been affected by the earthquake with opportunities to access literature as a therapeutic and transforming tool.
· organize reading promotion activities for children and youngsters, whose families have been affected by the earthquake in central Chile and several areas of the country, in temporary shelters, public places, schools and early childhood programs premises.
- provide training for community members, teachers or educators at pre-school level in order to secure stability in activities for children.
- establish small libraries in premises well-suited to host them in order to achieve project continuity.
First Stage of the Project:
- Request for book donations
- Identify neighbourhoods, schools, preschools or early childhood programs to take part in the activities
- Coordinate actions with community leaders and members, or institutional officials
- Diagnose and profile the community where the work is to be performed
- Program development to implement according to the features and possibilities at the premises
- Conduct reading promotion activities
- Reception of book donations
- Book selection
- Establish a library (wherever possible)
- Provide training for adults who will manage and expand the project
Two kinds of intervention are considered: at schools or preschools with kindergarten children through to 8th grade students, and at community centres (citizens’ centres or any other facility provided by the community) with children aged 4 to 14.
At school level, a weekly session with each group will be conducted for 6 weeks. This requires the work of one or two coordinators during 4 hours in order to meet all age groups on each visit to school. These activities will be supported by 12 hours of in-service training for teachers, which can be conducted over 3 sessions or according to participants’ availability of time. Training raises awareness and generates responsibility for reading promotion continuity and usage of books delivered to schools.
At community level, it is expected to have a weekly meeting for 8 weeks. Each meeting will take between 1 and 2 hours depending on the number and age of participants. Whenever a location fulfils the necessary conditions to carry on with the activities a small library will be donated. In order to provide a framework for the activities and library usage, it is necessary to deliver tools and methodologies to community members who are training in reading promotion. The 12-hour training schedule will be agreed upon with the community.
Activities developed – A brief overview
The request for book donations was sent by e-mail and by phone. About 400 books of children’s literature were collected; still, this is not enough to satisfy community needs and fulfil project goals. The books were selected according to their condition and reading level.
During the second stage, contacts were made and activities conducted at the following locations:
- Sara Gajardo neighbourhood, Cerro Navia Commune, Metropolitan Region. We started by contacting a community leader who introduced us to members of the community and they invited us to conduct the reading promotion workshops in their own home. The activities were aimed at children aged 4 to 12 with an average of 25 children per session. A few books have been given to start a small library. A few cushions have also been provided to make the children comfortable as there are no spare chairs or carpets in the community.
The activities have been welcomed by the children and their mothers, who are always present. Though structural damage doesn’t seem too severe in this neighbourhood, children have been diagnosed with anxiety and fright disorder.
In order to give continuity to the project training is provided to mothers, who show great interest and enthusiasm.
· Reading promotion activities for children between 2 and 5 years of age have been developed at the Semillitas del Futuro [Seeds of the Future] Preschool in the Huamachuco neighbourhood, Renca Commune. This school is operated by the Junta Nacional de Jardines Infantiles [National Board of Preschools] (Junji, by its Spanish acronym). Workshops for parents were also provided. Diagnosis shows that this community is recovering quickly from the effects of the quake and no significant infrastructure damage was observed. Therefore we consider the project should be discontinued in this commune.
· Rural schools in Paine Commune, Metropolitan Region. Three schools in the commune have been visited. All of them show severe damage as a result of the quake. Due to structural damage, two schools are not operational and children attend classes and share the facilities with students at other schools. This situation increases stress and brings about conflict between students and teachers from different schools.
The Raúl Sánchez Cerda School remains operational though the kindergarten classrooms are temporarily out of use due to structural damage. The school dining room has been organized to be used as a classroom for kindergarteners. The schoolyard has been declared safe for the children despite a few cracks. The waste water disposal plant has collapsed and the city government sends a truck to suction and clean the bathrooms daily.
We have identified and discussed the feasibility and approval to work at institutions in other regions, having received a welcoming reply from the following schools and communities. Working there largely depends on the availability of funding. The list includes:
· A 1,200-student middle school in Constitución (6th grade elementary through 4th year secondary level).
· Cerrillos School in Doñihue.
· Perallillo Community.
· A school in Dichato, Bío Bío Region.
María Graciela Bautista C.
Lectura Viva. Corporación de Fomento de la Lectura
(Translated from the original Spanish by Laura Canteros, Argentina)