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Sat Nov 1, 2014, 03:52 PM

Bringing Books and Seeking Peace in Colombia

Weekend Edition Oct 31-Nov 02, 2014

Bringing Peace to a Beleaguered Country

Bringing Books and Seeking Peace in Colombia


A teacher, two donkeys, and a big pile of books are working to enrich the lives of the children in a small community in Colombia. Luis Soriano hopes in doing so to help bring peace to his violence-prone country.

Since the 1930s, violence has been an inescapable component of Colombian society. From 1948 to 1957, the country went through a civil war known as “La Violencia,” which left over 250,000 dead, the result of old rivalries between people from the Liberal and Conservative parties. These incidents created the framework for the extreme violence in Colombian society today.

As a consequence of waves of violence and political persecution, whole families left their homes to live in bigger cities. They usually ended up living in the most marginal and poor areas, lacking basic health and social services.

In the 1980s, new factors contributed to the perpetuation of the culture of violence in the country. One of the most important was the dissemination of cocaine and the incorporation of youngsters into the drug trade. Other factors were the economic crisis and the proliferation of guerrilla groups whose activities continue today. Colombia thus became one of the most violent countries in the world.

Inevitably, violence has affected all activities of civilian life, such as education. According to some estimates, Colombia now has a 20 percent illiteracy rate, which can be much higher in rural areas affected by violence. In addition, functional illiteracy is also high, due in large measure to the lack of reading materials and libraries in those communities.

In 1997, Luis Soriano, a rural teacher, had what for many was a crazy idea: to bring books to children in La Gloria, the municipal department of Nueva Granada. He had two unusual allies, two donkeys called Alfa and Beto. It is from them that his adventure got his name: He called it “Biblioburro,” or “Donkey’s Library.”


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Reply Bringing Books and Seeking Peace in Colombia (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 2014 OP
Louisiana1976 Nov 2014 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 04:02 PM

1. Soriano is doing the Lord's work. People who don't read are missing a lot.

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