On March 26, 2009 I made a long, tedious journey to the remote, Mayan village of Xolsacmalja (closest Google Earth point is Totonicapan) for the inauguration of a Riecken Foundation (www.riecken.org) community library. The inauguration was the culmination of five years of work on the part of the community to be able to offer free access to information to the residents, 100% of whom are indigenous. After festivities that included speeches, certificates of recognition for community leaders who had shepherded the process and indigenous dancing by some of the school children the ribbon was cut and people literally poured through the doors to see what a library looked like. At first they all wandered around with their hands at their sides but with the encouragement of Riecken staff members the children started playing with educational games in the children’s corner, chess games were started, the computers were swamped and soon there was a crowd around the sex education book that was prominently displayed. In another corner older children were using the telescope and doing a solar system puzzle. The teenagers were encouraged to visit the separate room designed for them to meet and learn how to debate and talk through their issues together. The women then asked if they could meet there as well and were told “yes” by the director.
One of the guests was the director of a nearby Riecken Foundation library in San Juan La Laguna who has been providing training to the new director in Xolsacmalja. The next step in the process is for the community to establish a fundraising program to earn enough money to pay the monthly cost of internet access. Once they have raised six months of internet access Riecken will pay for the internet installation. Since internet access seemed to be of interest to all age groups I would expect that they will have it soon. Thank you to all of you who have contributed to The Riecken Foundation including The Rotary Club of Woodside/Portola Valley as your donations will totally change the lives of the men, women and children of Xolsacmalja for generations to come. There are more photos below and even more photos at the website: www.wpvrotary.org. Click on “Photo Album.”