Monday, March 12, 2012

Volunteers Extraordinarias!!

From January-early March, HB was blessed to have 2 outstanding volunteers join our team for a time, Rebecca Michael, from San Diego, California and Susan Brown, from Devon, England. The timing worked perfectly such that they were able to connect with each other and put together some joint programs including art and English with the kids, and English for adults. Sadly, they both left around the same time, but we wanted to give them a special thank you for all their time and dedication to HB. A Susan y Rebecca: Amigas, les vamos a extranar muchisimo, esperemos que regresan pronto!!

Rebecca having too much fun with the older kids at HB!

Susan & Mariana on a field trip with the kids
 Here's a message from Rebecca about her time at HB:

Rebecca poses with some good friends
I was fortunate to have studied in Querétaro, Querétaro, México as a college student.  I also studied in Spain and Central America, But when people ask where I learned Spanish I always say Querétaro.  México has a very special place in my heart.  When my law firm closed at the end of last summer, I was faced with what to do next.  Since one of my passions is speaking Spanish, returning to Mexico was definitely at the top of my bucket list.

So during January and February 2012 I lived in Akumal with the goal of improving my Spanish.  My primary teachers were the children, parents and staff at the Hekab Be Biblioteca.  I could not have picked a better classroom.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the founders, supporters and staff, especially Marianna Santigo, the new director. It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of an organization that enriches so many people's lives - from the very small who love to color and play to the older children who benefit from math instruction and reading to the adults who enjoy participating with their children or taking English lessons. 

Mi consejo  (my advice) is to add Hekab Be Biblioteca to your bucket list if only for a brief visit or afternoon activity with the children (maybe an English "lesson", the children love singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes",  If You Are Happy and You Know It" - anything with movement) or do what I did, be a long-time assistant helping with whatever comes along.  But if you can't come yourself, consider a financial donation to "keep the lights on" at a very, very special place.

The kindness and generosity of the local people will stay with me forever.  I will miss Akumal very much, it is a very special place.  But what I will miss most are the young voices calling out "Rebeca, Rebeca!" whether at the Biblioteca or on the streets of Akumal Pueblo.  A todos, que les vaya bien, nunca los olvidaré.

¡Hasta luego, Biblioteca!

A message from Susan about her time at HB:

Susan marvels at her going away gift from HB, a photo album of her with the kids at the library
For as long as I can remember I had wanted to do volunteer work abroad. The years passed by and still I seemed no nearer to doing it. Then in January, I was in between jobs… woke up one morning and decided to book a ticket and go! I was off to Mexico!

Volunteering at Hekab Be library was such a special experience for me and one I will treasure forever. Everyone made me so welcome and after only a few days teaching I was hearing the children and adults actually use what they were learning and speaking some English. It was amazing!

I would recommend for anyone to volunteer at Hekab Be. I had such fun at the library and many laughs.

I must admit I was slightly nervous to start with, but there is no need to be. It is me who wants to thank Hekab Be and the people of Akumal for having me. If you can volunteer even a few hours of your time there, it will truly enrich your life. Play games with the children, read stories…or share your skills. Any help is genuinely appreciated.

I will never forget my time at Hekab Be and the special friends I made there… I will be back! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Animal Welfare Activist and Children's Author Sends Books to HB!

Laura and the real Tommy dog
California children's author, animal welfare activist, and literacy advocate Laura Marlowe was inspired to write Tommy the Throwaway Dog  --based on a true story--  that is being used to educate youngsters and students about the value of kindness to all and the importance of empathy.  The book is also available in Spanish:  Tommy el Perro de Usar y Tirar.  Laura learned about Tommy quite by accident, thanks to her love of reading and concern for animal welfare.

Laura generously decided to share some copies of her book with the kids at HB, and here's how she found out about us:

Laura reads "Tommy" with children in LA

 After the book’s release, a friend of mine, who runs a children’s support program in Yucatan State, obtained 40 copies of the Spanish version of the book for her students to help educate them about the right way to treat our animal friends while at the same time add to their reading enrichment.

 Some time afterward, I decided to donate some copies of the Spanish version to either a school or library in the Yucatan; during my research of candidates, information about Hekab Be popped up.  I gladly read all about it and was SO impressed and inspired by this nonprofit library and educational center. Happily, the book eventually made its way down to Hekab Be thanks to one of the kind volunteers and is currently being read by the patrons.

Kids at HB enjoying reading Laura's book!
I am happy to know that the children who visit Hekab Be have opportunity to enjoy the story and the book’s color illustrations while learning its important message, and that the book can facilitate animal welfare discussions and projects at the library.  The book continues to make impact on children and adults in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, and abroad, utilized by a variety of reading enrichment and animal welfare institutions in classes, programs and special events, and added to many home bookshelves and school libraries.

Currently associated with Reading Is Fundamental So. Cal, (and formerly with Adult Literacy Program of Greater L.A.), I deeply appreciate the folks that worked together diligently to create Hekab Be and all the staff and volunteers that continue to enlighten, encourage and inspire the patrons and visitors in so many areas and subjects.

 Tommy and Hekab Be go together well as they both are symbols of the value of kindness and the possibility of second chances.

 I hope to pay a visit to Hekab Be before too long and meanwhile wish everyone Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

"Tommy" brings a smile to a child in Akumal

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hekab Be Thanks Jessica Ulrich, her Family and her friend Kristin!

Jessica’s parents visited a school in Costa Maya while on a vacation cruise and she and her family were planning on returning there for a vacation, but the hotel they ended up staying at was about 3 hours away from the Costa Maya.  As such, they decided to look for another school to donate to.  They found out about Hekab Be from another donor that had shared their experience with Hekab Be online.  As it turned out, Hekab Be was only 20 minutes from where they were staying so it worked out perfectly.

Jessica’s inspiration: 

My inspiration for donating to the Akumal library came to a tangible vision when my parents came back from a cruise that stopped near Costa Maya, where they joined up with a church group that went to a small local school. The church group brought school supplies, and my parents told me all about it when they returned from their vacation. I felt compelled to do something to help children and adults alike receive supplies to aid in their learning. My ultimate inspiration is from St. Francis of Assisi who said, "Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words".
Hekab Be would like to thank Jessica, Kristin and the Ulrich family for their support and generosity!

Keith and Crystal Gravitt, Library Angels!

Crystal and her husband Keith Gravitt are relative newcomers to Akumal.  Their first visit was only last year but they quickly spotted the needs of the community, despite the fact that most first time vacationers don't focus on anything but vacation.

The Gravitt's quickly became a part of our new Library Angels program, and despite the economy, sponsored 2 children for the summer program in June and then a whopping 17 more children in July!!  We now have 19 very happy Akumal children who thank Crystal and Keith for the sponsorship and ongoing support!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hekab Be Children Learn About Picasso!

Carol Current came to the library on a weekly basis for over a month to do art projects with the kids, she and the children had a great time! Read on to see what Carol has to say about her experience working with the kids at Hekab Be:
  My husband and I have been spending 3 months in  Aventuras for Akumal
for the past 4 winters.  The first winters I checked out books and did some shelving at the Hekab Be
library.  I was hesitant about working with the kids because I don't speak Spanish, but Carlos, the library
manager, assured me that the children needed to hear English spoken and he would translate for me.

And so this winter started preparing art lessons for the kids ages 2-13, who are in an after
school program which helps them keep up with their homework.  Carlos and his helpers, Reina and Nayla
do an amazing job working with the children.  The children listen and are attentive during the lessons.
They do their best work.  Their favorite art project I did with them was Picasso.  We talked about Picasso and his art and
they created their own self-portraits using colored markers.  One of the boys as he left the library commented ,
"And next week I am going to draw this, as he pointed to a self-portrait of Picasso."  They loved Picasso!
And I loved thinking up projects for them to do and getting to know them better each week.
They were a joy to work with and I look forward to spending time in the library again next winter.