|packing some of the supplies for La Casa Grande|
La Casa Grande is the children's home we've written about already. There are 33 children who live there. It's a very inspiring organization, because their projects help to employ many people in the town of Allada, and the projects also benefit the community.
In 2010, they started a school on the property. The private school fees that they were paying for the children from the home were too high, and the public schools had too many strikes every year that really got in the way of learning. They dreamed of a school where children from LCG could go, as well as children from the surrounding area. Burgos Mennonite church in Spain, as well as the city of Burgos, have been very generous in their support of LCG, and the city gave funds to have the school built.
Each year, the school has grown and there are about 140 students there this year. Next year, they project at least 200.
As the school grows, they have more dreams.
They dream of making a paved terrace for the children to play basketball and other sports. Right now, they have their gym classes on the dirt in front of the school.
They also have a dream of creating a library with a computer lab. There is no library in the town of Allada, so this would serve the town, the school, and the children's home.
Personally, I'm very excited about this library project. Books are a rare commodity here. We experienced that firsthand.
We brought 110 French children's books here to support this library dream. Here is a picture of some of them:
During our 2 weeks there, I kept about 10 books in our room so that our girls could continue to practice reading in French. Some afternoons, we would use these books to entertain the little ones in our care. They loved them, and paged through the books over and over again.
After school, the older kids noticed them one day. One by one, more children came over to our porch to pore over the books. I apologized to the kids who were 12 and 13 because the books were for little kids. But that didn't seem to bother them. They read them and looked at the pictures and kept asking for more. They were hungry to read.
In their school, the students write on chalk slates, and they read from the blackboard or from their workbook. But aside from that, there are no books.
Paulin has written up a project proposal, and I'm excited to see how schools, churches, or other organizations in Canada could help make this library project possible for them. Their total budget for the project is $9000 Canadian. This includes building the structure, building desks and shelves, and buying 10 used computers for the computer lab.
There were several books that we brought that I used in the classrooms - L'année de Zoe by Barbara Reid, which illustrates the 4 seasons in Canada (thanks, Pamela and Esme!) and showed the children a whole different world from Benin (everyone always asked if the Zoe in the book was the same Zoe from our family). Even the oldest class didn't mind that I was reading them a board book. I also used a book that showed some of Canada's geography (thanks Heather Weber!).
As a former teacher, I know how books can open up new worlds for children, and I'd love to help the children in Allada to experience this love of reading.