This is a time of year where I’m especially thankful for Living Libraries and the impact they’re making in the lives of kids, teachers, and their families here in Arequipa. Our team is phenomenal—Lucia’s leadership and Nancy’s artistic spirit combine with teammates and volunteers to make a huge impact. It makes me thankful for all of you who follow along and support us with your constant giving, donating books, and praying for us as you share Living Libraries’ story with others along the way. Thank. You.
We are nearing the end of the calendar year, which in Arequipa is the same as nearing the end of the school year. For CUDA and Living Libraries, that means we’re coming down the home stretch, teaching our last reading comprehension strategy in October before trying to synthesize a year’s worth of work with teachers and students during the month of November.
In March we started another school year with four schools, two of them in their first year! Our team is led as always by our talented director Lucia, assisted by Nancy and Miriam, who just finished 6 months of training. I’m also volunteering again this year with the team. Big thanks to Decatur (AL) Rotary Club for donating $5,000 to stock all of the books in our two brand new school libraries, as well as the supplementary books in our other two school libraries. Big thanks as well to the Bobbie Solley Foundation who is paying for our Living Library team salaries. And to many of you who donate monthly or at the end of every year—thank you. CUDA couldn’t go on without you.
Thank you so much for being a part of our work in 2017, and working with us toward the future. People are experiencing justice, wellbeing, and joy in Arequipa. Development is a slow process, but it’s transformational. What is now just a seedling of new life we believe is growing into something much bigger.
One of the funnest things I do each week is sit down with Alfredo, Paty, Lucia, Nancy, and Carmen and read through a few paragraphs of Cuando Ayudar Hace Daño—that is, When Helping Hurts. If you talk to any of us very long, you’ll know that this is one of Team Arequipa’s required books to understand what we’re trying to be and do in this city. The Spanish translation was published at the beginning of the year, and we’ve been making our way through it together once a week. I think of it in terms of staff development. As we work toward justice, wellbeing, and joy in the city, we renew the challenge to ourselves to continue to develop, to be repentant of practices that may have been easy but aren’t right, and to work together toward reconciliation.
I would like to share with you the story of one of our diabetes patients named Maximiana. Maximiana was diagnosed with diabetes about two years ago. After the diagnosis, she decided that she wanted to change her life and be healthier. She heard about our work at the local hospital and came to visit us. We enrolled her in our monthly follow-up program and referred her to the exercise group that Katie and I lead three days a week.
The Program for the Care and Education of Diabetics (ProCED) is a community development program designed to 1) prevent diabetes and raise awareness in the community, 2) identify people who are at-risk or who have diabetes but don’t know it, and 3) holistically support diabetic patients and their families with the information and resources they need to manage the disease and prevent complications.
I'd like to give you all an update on our exercise group. We started this group in July 2015 and you can refer back to my first article about it. Things have been going really well lately. There is a group of about 6-8 women and they recently asked if we could meet more than just once a week. So now we are meeting on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.
March in Arequipa means the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. For CUDA, that means the beginning of a new year of work with the public schools who are part of our Living Libraries project. This year, we’re working with 4 schools, 30 teachers, and 560 kiddos and their families. Two of the schools are in their third and final year of the program, one school is in its second year, and we have one brand new school.