Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tinku for the Elf

No one can say that tales
must only be written after knowing
their laws. First, there are no such laws;
at most one can speak of points of view,
of certain constants that give structure
to that genre that refuses to be pigenholed ...
The contemporary story is proposed
as an infallible machine destined
to fulfill its narrative mission with
the maximum economy of means...
The novel always wins on points,
while the story must win by knockout.

Julio Cortázar

We have Tinku (an encounter) this Tuesday 18th, at 7 pm, at the headquarters of our network (Av. Peru No. 416).

There will be a literary gathering for the release of "El duende del laberinto y otros cuentos medulares" (The elf of the laberinth and other core stories), the recent book by our brother Alfredo Mires, edited by the Network.

The LuArtica project from Spain will make a theatrical representation of some of the stories and, at the end of the launch, we will share our joijona (the traditional table of the Cajamarcan countryside placed on the earth).

Spread the word. You are invited!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Go raibh maith agat (thank you)

One stage of my time as volunteer with Bibliotecas Rurales is coming to an end. For the last 8 months I have been living in the communal house and volunteering as part of the Proyecto Enciclopedia Campesina team. On Monday I begin my journey home to Ireland.

I go with joy and sadness. Joy to have be given the opportunity to share this time with so many beautiful people, sadness because I have to leave them. I have learnt so much during my time here, probably I haven't processed yet a fraction of what my senses eagerly soaked up.

It was an honour to be able to accompany Alfredo on his journeys across the region visiting the libraries and learning about and in this culture that is beautiful, rich, wise and deep. The librarians and the people from the countryside opened their homes and their hearts to us, sharing their table filled with the fruits of their hard, honest labour. They also shared the treasure they house within them: the ancient wisdom of our ancestors passed down through the ages.

The Earth has been teaching us ever since we have had the capacity to understand her, and before. But the lessons are long and we weren't around for the beginning, so we need to listen to the echo that comes down the line of voices through time. 

In my country, and in most of the 'West', these voices have been smothered by concrete and greed. The community was stretched until it burst. We have now isolated ourselves both in space and time. And we're lost.

Here in the Cajamarcan Andes I have been given back my hope. Here the Earth is still heard and the ancestors still speak. People still rejoice at the coming of the rain, they still savour the smell of wet earth, they still invite their neighbour to share their bread.

It is true that concrete and greed can be found here too, creeping in through the back door, wanting to take up prime position in the living room. But the persistance of the indigenous-campesino people to continue living in dignity and beauty is astounding and inspiring.

The essence of Bibliotecas Rurales is this dignity, this beauty. It is like a child crossing the battlefield singing a song about a rainbow, because it's also her garden.

I have received many lessons from Alfredo; his humility, his love for the Earth and the life that lives on her, his writing that speaks to the heart. From Rita - generosity, immense kindness, the joy that looking after the most needy brings (and how to make delicious almond butter).

Thanks also to Lola, Karina and Rosita for the warm welcome and inclusion. To Rumi and Mara for their friendship.

Thank you to all the members of the Bibliotecas Rurales family, spanning the region of Cajamarca. Thank you for the essential work you do, and the love with which you do it.

Lynda Sullivan

Launch of “La espalda del clima” (“The back of the climate”)


The Rural Libraries Network of Cajamarca and 
the Group of Formation and Intervention for Sustainable Development 
invite you to the book presentation:

The campesino vision of climate change and community permanence

Wednesday 21st of September, 7.00pm.
Centre of the Rural Libraries Network of Cajamarca,
Av. Peru No. 416.

We are grateful for your punctual attendance.

Dictionaries on the move

We are very pleased to have visited the Rural Libraries project in Peru during the summer, and to be witness to how the dictionaries that we managed to obtain in the Christmas campaign are being distributed to the librarians.

Rachel Hardy, Simon Wheatley and I were very fortunate to be able to be in the countryside in order to meet with the coordinators and librarians who make it possible for the indigenous campesino families in the Andes have access to books.

We spent one night at the house of Don Jacinto Aguilar Neyra, who is 68 and has been a volunteer librarian for 33 years. He is currently responsible for six libraries and was very excited to deliver the new dictionaries since many people make frequent applications for these. It was a warm, moonlit evening and we joined in a traditional ceremony with his family, in honor of the mountains, the earth and the dead.

Previously, Don Jacinto told us of what was lived through in the communities during the time of violence in the 1980s, when the country was rocked by the violence of an internal war. He was responsible for 40 libraries in 4 sectors. Many of them had to close because the librarians were affected and persecuted by the warring factions. In many places the rural librarians had to bury the books in their fields and Jacinto had to live in the mountains, for safety, for a long time. Slowly, Don Jacinto managed to reawaken the libraries and today two  new coordinators will help with tasks in the future.

Many thanks to all who continue to support this inspiring community with their efforts to develop literacy and their promotion of the Andean culture.

Helen Heery
(On behalf of Sarah's Rural Library Fund)

Rain and growth

In early September, the person responsible for the Community Program and two volunteers traveled to Masintranca, in the province of Chota, to visit children there with projectable capabilities and their families from the communities of Huayrasitana and Numbral.

On the road the sky covered over and, upon arrival, everyone greeted us with great joy. "You have brought the rain" said the villagers happily, and we shared with them this satisfaction of the first downpours that the land was crying out for.

In the communities the children and Parent Groups of our coordinators Donaida Guevara and Sergio Diaz had gathered. Both coordinators are long-term integrants of the Community Program and their work is truly admirable.

For this visit we had been asked to review three issues with the Parent Groups: our proposal for child protection, how to raise awareness among students and teachers for better school inclusion and how to eat well with products from our own farms.

While parents, coordinators and the person responsible for the Program did a review of these issues, our volunteers - Samay, Erica, Carla and Mara played with the children and taught them to weave bracelets. It was an extraordinary experience.

The work with the parents was also wonderful, not only for their interest in continuing to share and learn, but also because - thanks to the ongoing work of Sergio and Dona which is like the rain: gentle and constant, you can feel the growth of the plants of knowledge in each of the parents.

Uncovering colonialism in Jaén

Despite being far, Jaen is with us. In late August, Alfredo Mires - member and Advisor our Network -, gave three days of training to more than 40 teachers from the Cajamarcan province of Jaen.

Alfredo explored deeply the theme of colonialism and education and how we, as teachers, act as transmitters of an imposed dogma, with or without our knowledge or consent. The discussion evidenced manipulation methods used by those who wish to control us.

Recognizing the problem, then we moved to the solutions.

What are the cultural passwords that can be used to protect our rich culture from attack? To continue living and growing as a dynamic community in the direction we decide, not to follow a prescribed route to destruction and assimilation...

Part of the conversation focused on the valuing of our own culture, reinforcing it, rescuing what has been lost and restoring the current through which the wisdom flows: the connection between our elders and our youth. A key element, highlighted Alfredo, is respect: respect for others, respect for ourselves and respect our Mother Earth.

Participants were also very interested in learning about the Rural Libraries and our 45 years of establishing and supporting a movement that cultivates (ploughs, ​​fertilizes) our essence, which enriches our culture through the sharing of books, especially books about the extraordinary wisdom of our people, past and present.

This rich shared experience was made possible thanks to the invitation and organization of Elizabeth Olano and the Communications Team at the Sacred Heart Secondary School in Jaén. We are very grateful for their tremendous dedication.

So much to learn, so much to do

In August, the Community Program had their final training of this year. The meeting was also attended by some fathers, mothers and children of projectable capabilities that we are attending to.

To share this time and space with the families means a lot to us because it gives us the opportunity to know each other better and learn together.

At the beginning of this meeting the coordinators reaffirmed their commitment to continue supporting the children, families and communities, and then expressed in a very deep and loving way their responsibility and effectiveness during reflections, testimonies and dynamics with which we worked with the parents.

Then there was much to share and learn. We dealt with different and very varied topics such as nutrition, therapy techniques, relaxation, reflexology, an exchange of good practices to encourage the cooperation of the family members in the therapy, the benefits of relaxing the mind through the colouring of mandalas and the importance of reading.

On Saturday night there was an intense cultural rescue on the Rights of the Child in the Andean conception and on Sunday we visited the Alternative Campesino School of Pomabamba to learn about ecological construction, environmental protection, harvesting and recycling of water.

Now, on returning to our communities, we are left with the challenge of sharing the lessons with our families and Parent Groups. There is much to do, and we will do it heartily.