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Rotary Club of Carpinteria Completes Library Project in Panama

1,000 new Spanish language books benefit a remote village school

More than 20 members of the Rotary Club of Carpinteria enjoyed a multimedia presentation at their luncheon on Thursday, given by club member Pat Kistler.

She highlighted the completion of a two-year, $4,000 (matching international grant) library project in rural Panama, sponsored by the club. Kistler applied for the District 5240 Rotary matching grant in the spring of 2010, and it was approved by that summer.

Kistler showed the before and after photos of the Manglarito remote village school and classroom, where the library was to be established.

“Manglarito has 350 residents, no running water, no electricity and no other amenities,” she said. “Dirt roads in and out of the area are impassable during the rainy season.”

In spite of the remoteness of the village, between 2010 and 2012 about 1,000 new Spanish language books (for all ages) were purchased and carried by hand to the village. The books have been and are being catalogued and placed in their new location, courtesy of the Rotary grant and the hard work of the local villagers, who painted the classroom walls, repaired the classroom roof, added screens to the windows, placed new tile on the floor and set up the new book shelves.

“We could not have completed this project without the expertise of the two retired American librarians, Chris Mann and Connie Hess, who live within 50 miles of the village in Panama,” Kistler said. “Chris purchased and delivered the supplies and books. Connie trained one of the villagers to set up and manage the library, and is teaching other villagers on the day-to-day library operations until they are trained.

“Manglarito now has a free lending library, offering their residents an opportunity to read and learn about what is happening in the world beyond their village.”

Kistler was thanked for her presentation and her project leadership by the club’s president-elect, Roland Rotz.

It should be noted that the Carpinteria Noontime Rotary Club paid $2,000 and Rotary District 5240 will pay $2,000 toward the project grant. The portion donated by the Rotary was fundraised by the club members between 2011 and 2012.

— Pat Kistler is the public relations coordinator for the Rotary Club of Carpinteria.

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