Friday, 12 August 2016

Rise up to be born...

Rise up to be born with me, brother.
Give me your hand from the deep place
of your scattered pain.
You won’t return from behind the rocks.
You won’t return from time underground.
Look at me from the depths of the earth,
farmer, weaver, silent shepherd:
I come to speak
through your dead mouth ...

So cries this poem by Pablo Neruda ("Alturas de Macchu Picchu" in “Canto General” – translated as “Heights of Macchu Picchu” in “General Song”), which we now have transcribed on the stairs of our house, so as to ascend and feel as we read.
Thus we read when we ascend. And we ascend when we read.

Give me silence, water, hope.
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes.
Stick your bodies to mine like magnets.
Hasten to my veins and to my mouth.
Speak through my words and my blood.

Segundo Huamán, a volunteer community member who is helping us with the construction these days, was the first reader of these telling steps.

In this way we also delve into, evoke and better ourselves.

Jacinto and the ritual for the deceased

Jacinto Aguilar Neyra is a veteran with over thirty years as a Coordinator of our Rural Libraries Network.

From his community, in Carrizal, Cajabamba province he has remained dedicated despite political persecution, lack of funds, the weight of the books on the endless slopes on foot, and other problems that have presented themselves along our path.

Jacinto works tirelessly in the recuperation of our ancestral knowledge. A few weeks ago, as we visited him, we found him dedicated to the recuperation of the rituals surrounding the deceased. Not only is he recuperating the information but also recreating the drawings of the animals and mythical figures that are found in what the elders of the communities tell.

Various birds are depicted as winging messengers of death, as well as the dragon, angels and the Christian figures of Adam and Eve. The mixture of Christian and native symbolism in the representations that he has collected reflects the mix that is found in the Cajamarcan tradition.

This recuperation is especially significant now for our dear friend Jacinto, due to the pain of having recently lost his wife after a long illness.

Thank you, brother, for your courageous efforts and your unfailing commitment.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Reading Corners

In Cajamarca, since years ago, we built our house and we did it in Minga (voluntary and community work): this is also a source of pride for us.

With and between us all we went about laying the foundations and raising these walls: each corner knows of our efforts.

A while ago now we made wells –in the shape of seats- where we collect rainwater, now we are renovating them so they can also be Reading Corners... and there we go, brightening them with poetic actions.

That is, the building of the house has not finished.

It's like with each of us: we continue to construct.

Heart Links

A few weeks ago our house received with joy the visit of a group of friends from Heart Links, a Canadian organization that supports some of the efforts of the Rural Libraries.

During this visit we had the opportunity to talk and learn about the work we do at an organizational level and to listen and inform ourselves about the context of our respective countrie;, because only then will we understand the Why of our communal  journey.

However Sheila Horrell, Linda Lustins, Susan Price, Mara Horrell and Shannon Theriault, not only got to know some of our work in the countryside, they also participated as ‘mingueras’ (volunteers in community) in the preparation of books for our Rural Libraries - placing stamps and pasting the recommendations paper. These tasks, in fact, are simple and easy to perform, but when it comes to one or two thousand copies, or even more, the task becomes a bit heavy. However, when we are in a group, between laughter and coffee, this and other activities are even fun.

We recognize the efforts of this group of friends to share and learn about our country and culture.

At Celendin's Magisterial Week

At the beginning of July, our colleague Alfredo Mires was invited as a speaker at the Pedagogical Update Conference during the Magisterial Week, in the province of Celendin. The invitation was made by the Unitary Union of Education Workers, Celendin Base, who expressed their appreciation for "the important work and commitment to the education of the people of our region that the Rural Libraries of Cajamarca carries out".
The topics discussed by Alfredo (in blocks for nursery, primary and secondary school teachers) were the promotion of reading and the rescue of ancestral knowledge. While he broached these issues, he also spoke of the racism present in the social structure and how it is transmitted directly through the formal education system. He questioned the act of uncritically opening our doors to foreign influences if we don’t have a solid foundation in our own culture, remembering what Mahatma Gandhi said: "I want all the world’s cultures to blow about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be swept away by any of them. I refuse to live in other people's houses as an intruder, a beggar or a slave. "
Through the oral tradition of the Andes we can keep alive the ancient wisdom of our elders and, using books as tools, we can maintain it more safely and spread it more widely. Stories in particular are vehicles that can travel through centuries while still carrying their seeds.
Approximately 1,500 teachers from all districts of the province of Celendín attended and there was a high level interest to have the presence of the Rural Libraries in their rural communities and schools.

Alfredo always closed his speeches with the phrase that summarizes our work: "Our glory comes from having given our hand to our grandchild without letting go of our grandfather’s".

The Gurrión 144

"The Gurrión" number 144 is now in circulation.

Our friend Mariano Coronas continues with this struggle that is an uphill journey.

"While we have forces, we will continue in the pit.
May the summer holidays fill your body with joy and may you be happier than a partridge. Good summer and good reading to you, "says Mariano.

On this slope and in this struggle we support each other.

"The hunter of stories"

A few weeks ago “El cazador de historias” (The hunter of stories) arrived, the posthumous wanderings of our brother and colleague Eduardo Galeano.

Helena Villagra, Eduardo’s companion to the last breath, made sure it got to us.

"One writes without really knowing why or for what, but I suppose it has to do with what one deeply believes in, with the themes that reveal it.

I tried, and I'm still trying to discover of the women and men animated by the desire for justice and the will of beauty, beyond the boundaries of time and maps, because they are my countrymen and my contemporaries, who were born where they have born and have lived when they have lived. "

Thus says Eduardo, whose spirit is still hunting, writing and walking.

Thank you, Helena.