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In Design: International Literacy Programs

Have you ever noticed the way that plant roots look like veins? So do rivers flowing to the sea, when viewed from high altitudes. We can easily grasp on to these images and then our minds attach the meaning. Roots, veins, rivers; they appear similar and serve the same purpose: nourishment, growth, new life. On a less-tangible level, we can visualize seeds of human intellect sprouting into roots after being nourished by the rivers of knowledge and wisdom. In the same way that a tree seed sprouts and can eventually nourish a prodigious expanse of leaves and bark, the seeds planted in a child’s experience will grow in to the future of humankind. Children benefit from care, guidance, nutrition and love so they can grow and expand.

A young girl in Lanquín, Guatemala, came to sell chocolate. I gave her some workbooks and she was very excited! Later that evening I saw her on the front porch of her home, happily looking through the books with her mother.

Kids. They’re the most wise people on the planet. It might sound outlandish to some, but to me, it’s truth. My theory is that kids are closer to the seed and the original roots of human existence, naturally connected to a deep state of understanding. I look at children as precious beings who have the capacity to grow like sponges depending upon their surroundings. I wish that all societies would appreciate their gifts, and encourage kids to flourish into brilliantly luminous adults who contribute to the greater good. 

I’ve been traveling through Central America since 2009, teaching yoga at various beautiful locations in the jungles and on the coasts. I feel honored to be able to step in to these cultures which are, overall, abundant with amazing art, food, nature, people, families, farms and communities. However, as my work moves me from Nicaragua, Guatemala to Mexico a couple of times each year, I have noticed an unsettling trend. Often in the impoverished areas where tourism is high, the children are not encouraged to go to school, have fun, be creative, and play. Rather, they’re sent to the streets, ports and docks, to sell souvenirs and the like. In some places the kids spend their days following the tourists, begging for food, often scared into making a minimum-wage for the day to bring home to their families. The cultures have adapted in a manner so that it is often viewed as acceptable and normal for kids as young as four to spend their time working, while the parents are not employed.

A Nicaraguan boy in front of his home.

There’s also a big alcohol problem among adults in some of these areas. Many of the parents do not work, since they send the kids out to make the daily wages. Instead they tend to stay home and drink a dangerous form of cheaply-produced and highly-addictive alcohol. This is a vicious cycle of childhood illiteracy, adulthood unemployment and alcoholism.

The issues are vast and there are political, social, economic and ethical considerations. On the small-scale, I find it difficult to know how to respond to the children, and I feel called to do something to help. 

It’s easy to find books in Spanish for all ages.

So, I started purchasing and handing out children’s books and art supplies as I traveled. When the kids approach me to sell or beg, I respond by handing them books, paper and pens. I think that this may help, little by little, to promote literacy and hopefully broaden their opportunities. Over the past year I’ve distributed literacy materials to children in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.

I would love to get more people involved in this project, including our Holistic Yoga School community of teachers and students. If you are interested in becoming a literacy distribution point ANYwhere there are kids in need, we’d love to know about your intentions and help get you started. To make a donation which will be used to purchase the books and materials, please click here.

Krista with the kids who are working as tour guides in Palanque, Mexico.

A portion of all revenue from Holistic Yoga School is invested in this project and other nonprofit literacy projects across the world. So, another way you can support is through participation in HYS classes, retreats and courses. 

I hope this information can not only raise awareness for the kids internationally, but also encourage each of us to spend quality time with the children in our own lives, feeding their growth and supporting their spirits. Thank you for reading and getting involved! 

Coming Soon: Programs to Promote Conscious Travel & Tourism…  

Shanti Om – Peace – Peace – Peace

A Semana de Santa gift for our neighbors in Santiago, Atitlan, Guatemala

One Response to In Design: International Literacy Programs

  • Diana says:

    Krista!

    I am currently living in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, and frequently see, when I walk through the main streets–at virtually any time in the day or night–many of these little kids selling souviniers. I’ve often thought of possible ways to lift these communities (as well as myself!) out of false ideas on money & power, among many others, and I truly resonate with this project to bring about not only a positive change in these communities, but also allow for the possibility of trade with true value!
    At this moment in my life I am carefully, yet openly and mindfully stepping into “business” and what my business/work can be for this world. I am starting small, but that´s okay because I’m also starting from scratch and learning everything from a different perspective from that which I had known as a child, seeing my father work. I see much of the same fear-based decision making–that I feel is out of survival mode living–in these people that I saw in my father’s patterns as well.
    Long story short, throughout my travels in Central America for the past 3 months, I’ve finally–and gratefully–come to perceive money as a tool, among an infinite amount of others. In evolving my perceptions in this way, I’ve been able to use this tool as a trade of certain value to me, rather than “giving my money away” as if it had little or no value at all, which always seemed to have made me feel depleated and “poor”. Now, when I travel or walk the streets (with my small, but growing, bag of trades in hand), I can better feel the true value people place on their own trades–phsyical or metaphsyical–and when perhaps another trade can enter the picture (i.e. children’s workbooks!). It allows for much more consciously-based decision making on the placement of true values, so that the children–and especially the adults–can open their minds to this form of trade (books, arts & crafts, etc.) to take home rather than money for the parents to buy cheap booze with.

    I hope my rambling has gotten the point across–in perhaps some way or other– that I am really taken with the work that you’ve done for these children, who could really use this.
    Please let me know what I can do to help!

    May blessings of good fortune & abundance come your way,
    Diana

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