The Book Bus starts in Puerto Lopez on 24 June 2013
Read Helen Keep's experiences from the project last year:
Marta, Helen(c) and the children from Puerto Lopez
I spent two weeks volunteering with the Book Bus in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, in 2012. It is a fantastic project, and seems to be very successful at enthusing the kids with reading - certainly they welcomed us with open arms every morning! Each session started with a warm-up exercise - everyone singing a song, complete with actions! Then we read a story to the kids, which they really seemed to enjoy - in fact, on one occasion, the kids in my group "took over" and all 6 of them (in unison!) very enthusiastically read the book to me instead!! After this, they did a craft activity related to what we had just read - making penguins, butterflies etc.
Puerto Lopez is in one of the poorer areas of Ecuador, and the general educational levels are not as high as in the West. The schools had very few resources, and very few books (other than those provided by the Book Bus). So it was wonderful to be able to help encourage the children with reading, as I believe this is essential in helping to raise the educational standards. Obviously the main aim is to help the kids, but I got a lot out of it too. It was so satisfying to see how much they enjoyed what we were doing with them. And it is a great way of learning about the culture of a country, and what real life is like there - you learn much more about what a country is really like than you would if you just visited for a holiday. We also got some free time each day, and at the weekend, when we were able to explore the area. And of course, my Spanish improved enormously!!
The people running the project were all lovely, and looked after us really well. I will certainly be doing this again in the future, and I would encourage anyone else to try it. It's making a massive difference to the kids, and it's also great fun.