Libros Para Los Niños: Books for the Children
By Janice Summers Bedoukian
Posted November 18, 2015
This article was originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of the The Albany Episcopalian, the newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, and is re-posted here with the gracious permission of the author, Janice Summers Bedoukian, and The Albany Episcopalian’s editor, George Marshall. To read the original article in the online archive of The Albany Episcopalian (pages 32-33), click here.
The Libros team returned to the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic from November 12-19, 2015.
– – – – –On a trip to the Dominican Republic in 2006, Harold and Jan Bedoukian, from St. John’s in Essex, New York, visited the Episcopal clinics and schools in San Pedro de Macorís and the barrio of De Las Flores. The Bedoukians had heard about the wonderful work being done there by the medical team from St. Eustace in Lake Placid. It became obvious on this trip that not only did the area need medical help but the schools also were in dire need. There were no libraries and the general educational supplies and equipment were either in short supply or non existent.
On the return to the “north country”, Jan met with a group of Episcopal woman and asked if anyone was interested in helping Episcopal schools in the Dominican Republic. The response was an overwhelming “yes” and Libros Para Los Niños was born. It was decided that our mission was to enhance the educational experience of Dominican children and to provide the tools to make this education possible. It is our belief that an education is the most important gift that can be given a child and it is the one gift that can never be taken away. Over the past eight years we have worked very closely with the Ven. P. Ramon Garcia, our mentor and spiritual guide. Father “Tony”, as he is affectionately known throughout the DR, has directed us to the neediest of schools. Libros has worked with Santiago Apóstol in Angelina, La Transfiguración in Baní, San Antonio de Padua in Carretón, La Anunciación and Albergue Infantil Cristo Salvador in Santiago, Buen Pastor (Barrio De La Flores) in San Pedro de Macorís, Santa Cruz in Santa Fe, San Bernabé in Pizarette, Cristo Rey in Puerto Plata, Jesús Peregrino and La Redención in Barahona, and Monte de la Transfiguración in Jarabacoa.
Since our founding, Libros has taken over one and a half tons of Spanish language books to the Dominican Republic, purchased printers and photocopy equipment, students desks and chairs, chalk boards, audiovisual equipment, computers, and fully equipped science labs in Jarabacoa, Baní, and Carretón. In addition to purchasing school equipment, Libros has provided over 75 scholarships for children to attend school and awarded 5 scholarships for graduates of our schools to attend university. Several recipients of Libros scholarships are studying to be teachers with the aim of returning to their communities to teach.
Albergue Infantil Cristo Salvador in Santiago is a special focus for Libros, as this school feeds and educates children who come from homes rife with drug and alcohol abuse. Some of the students come from physically abusive family situations. Our work in this school is important not only for an academic education but for a moral one as well. Christian family values must be taught to children who may otherwise be lost to an undesirable cycle of life. Libros subsidizes the breakfast and lunch programs for the school children, who would otherwise have little or nothing to eat. You cannot educate a hungry child.Libros has funded field trips for the students of Santiago Apóstol to Santo Domingo to visit the National Aquarium, Zoo, Children´s Museum, and Botanical Gardens. The students from Angelina come from a very economically depressed background. It is important for these children to see the world beyond the boundaries of their sugarcane village and to see the possibilities that exist if they continue their education. Since our work in this school began, the enrollment has increased from 22 to 68 students.
In 2013, Libros began working with Jesús Peregrino and La Rendención in Barahona. Jesús Peregrino is an albergue, working with children from impoverished backgrounds similar to those of Cristo Salvador in Santiago. La Rendención doubles as a school for the hearing impaired as well as a regular school.The 2014 Libros team travelled from the southwest coast to the north coast, over 520 miles, and worked in seven schools in six different towns or communities. Each team member must travel at her own expense and is responsible for bringing a minimum of 50 pounds of education supplies or equipment with her. Libros is constantly raising funds for their projects by craft and bake sales, recycling, sale of Dominican coffee, personal donations, and grants from the Diocese of Albany and support from St. John’s Church in
Libros Para Los Niños is continually working to enhance the educational experience of the Dominican children. As one of our schools is adopted by another mission team or has other means of support, Libros will move on to another needy school. It generally takes two years for Libros to bring a school up to our standards.
For more information on Libros Para Los Niños, contact Janice Summers Bedoukian, 764 Highlands Road, Keesville, NY 12944 <firstname.lastname@example.org>.