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Jardin un Municipio Lector | The educational project supported by co.hilo
By Patricia Arroyave (translated by Martín Rojas Arboleda)

Why is an educational project supporting a transformation important?

The project “Jardín un Municipio Lector” arises from the necessity to improve the reading level of the community. Especially of children and young people seeking an integral formation, and become autonomous, dreamers, creative and critical beings.

It is necessary to propagate human knowledge, make available to people the tools that will enable them to overcome challenges, escape and transform their own lives. Only in this way will it be possible to increase the social value of individuals and strengthen the cultural identity of the municipality. In other words, build a strong social fabric.

Jardín is a Colombian municipality with 14,000 inhabitants, located in the department of Antioquia. It is 224 kilometers long, has a mountainous topography, three thermal floors, exuberant vegetation and abundant rivers and streams. Today it is at high risk for several reasons. 98% of the territory is requested for mining concessions, while a rapid transformation in construction and demographics is happening due to rampaging tourism in constant growth and with very little regulation.

Cultural transformations are made from knowledge and their medium is reading. Reading enables information flows that lead us to be more participatory, more productive, to have criteria, to generate opinion, to be fairer, to understand the environment in which we live and to participate in its development and transformation.

It is a priority to make programs of encouragement and promotion of reading in the Municipality of Jardín, because of the absolute lack of activities that allow the children and young people to approach it in a pleasant and ludic way. Books are expensive, and because of that, most educational institutions do not have libraries. Additionally, the extremely low income of the population also impedes the access to books. The level of schooling of parents is low, which makes it illusory to expect that in everyday family life acts of promotion of reading are carried out.

What does the project Jardín Municipio Lector do?

The project Jardín, un Municipio Lector, was born in 2004 and lived the first stage until 2011, the year in which it was interrupted for lack of support. At that time, the “Literary Tertulia: Había una Vez” was held weekly and targeted at young people and adults. Another program: “La hora del cuento” (the story hour) was addressed to the entire educational community of both rural and urban municipality, a total of 21 monthly sessions were made. Additionally, the project also realized the weekly radio program “Stories and more stories” (historias y más historias) which targeted farmers, housewives, carpenters and people of various trades. Another program called “El rincón del Libro” (the book corner), strived to provide rural schools with collections of at least 50 books. Complementary to that the “Travelling suitcases” (maletas viajeras) were collections of books that were rotated by all the schools of the rural areas as a loan, there were also readings of poetry, among other activities. All this work was carried out with the support of the local administrations on duty which ended in 2011.

In 2017 begins a process of revival of the project, now with the participation of a group of volunteers because of the request of the parents’ council of a local educational institution. Additionally, with an economic contribution given by the family Restrepo Restrepo, the aim moved to develop a reading program in the 4 locations of the educational institution San Antonio in the urban part of Jardín. Through co.hilo, Jardín a reading municipality begins to extend again to 2 rural schools and we hope very soon to return to full coverage. This is why participation in the crowdfunding campaign is very important for this project.

At this stage or in the present time, reading rooms and a library are being organized at the Moisés Rojas, Jahel Peláez, Caperucita Roja and Liceo San Antonio campi; and students are being served by a group of volunteers. “La hora del cuento” is held in the rural neighborhoods of Morro Amarillo and Alto de las Flores and in the 4 locations of the urban part of Jardín. What is more, a “creative writing workshop” began with the children from the Jahel Peláez school, and a “literary gathering” is held with children from the Moisés Rojas school. Another activity is a “book fare” that is held every year in the main or central park of the municipality to promote reading to the general public and to look for resources to buy books for institutions. There and then alliances are sought with public and private companies, etc.

What are the expectations of the project?

This project is expected to provide schools in both, the urban and rural areas, with good book collections. Another aim is to train teachers and parents to become active promoters of reading. And also to train young people to join the project as volunteer librarians and reading promoters.

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