Still going strong!

Hello friends of PGL!  It has been way too long since we’ve posted to our blog, but rest assured, we are still going strong!  If you’ve seen our Facebook page (, you’ve likely seen some updates and photos from our partners.  Some of the most exciting updates include our providing materials to young women and girls in Nairobi, Kenya, through Heshima Kenya (  They do excellent work, and we are proud to be supporting them with books and supplies for their library/learning centers for young women, many of whom are refugees from Somalia.

Our work in the Dominican Republic also continues, and remains our main focus.  Most of the credit goes to our local partners and staff, whose hard work and leadership make the libraries a great success among local children!  Nancy Kilby and Rose Deardorff remain the engines here in the U.S., with the board cheering them on.  We have a number of expansion projects in mind, so stay tuned!

See Heshima Kenya founder and director, Anne Sweeney, on NBC Chicago

Pathways is excited about future possibilities in literacy and library work with Heshima Kenya in Nairobi.  A first shipment of books has already been sent, and the young women of Heshima Kenya are excited to begin their library and literacy initiatives.

In the meantime, however, our hearts are broken at the tragedy at Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi.  We pray for peace and comfort for the victims and their families, and in particular the young women at Heshima Kenya.  Refugees are already among the most vulnerable people in Kenya, and there is concern for their safety in the wake of the attacks.

See Anne Sweeney from Heshima Kenya discussing this week’s events in an interview on NBC 5 Chicago:!/news/local/Kenyan-Siege-Hits-Home-For-Chicago-Group/224944842

Update from Gaspar Hernandez

Earlier this summer the Gaspar Hernandez library moved to a new location!  The librarians worked very hard to make this happen–it was quite an undertaking–and we are pleased to report that as of July, it is now open in the new location!  Congratulations to them and a heartfelt thanks for the wonderful job they did in organizing everything for the move, and for the excellent work they do every day!

Here are excerpts of a report from the Biblioteca Misionera librarians in Gaspar Hernandez, RD:

In order to encourage students to read and motivate them to come to the library, we carry out the following activities with the children of Gaspar Hernandez:

  • Story telling: once a week a parent from the church or Compassion comes to the library to read a story to the children
  • Character of the week: we place a book character on the wall (e.g. Dora the Explorer) and all week every activity revolves around that character
  • Child of the week: We post a picture of the child who has read the most stories up on the wall, along with a list of the stories he or she has read.
  • Story rotation: A book is given to a child to take home.  Inside is a set of questions that the parents must read to the child, which is a way to make sure the parent sees the book. Afterwards the parent signs the sheet of questions, and the book is assigned to another child.
  • We use beads to keep track of usage and attendance: every time a child enters they put a bead in a bowl, and we later count the beads.

In the future, we plan to visit local schools to invite children to our library.  We will also begin some story activities with puppets, and are planning to integrate talks about violence, health, sexuality and other life issues into some talks at the library.

We are open Monday through Friday 8am-11am and 2pm-5pm, and Saturday 8am-12pm.

In the process of moving to the new location–Carolina fills the shelves!Carolina

It was quite a project!

Books in the process of being shelved at the new location

Better late than never! Nancy Kilby reflects on their visit to the Dominican Republic last November

We had a great trip to Gaspar Hernandez in mid-November.  Dr. Beverly Cook accompanied us (Rose and Nancy).  With her excellent translating abilities, we were able to have more in-depth conversations with the Gaspar leader team and with the librarians concerning the current state of the library as well as future plans.

 We were so pleased with all the hard work that had occurred since our last visit in February! The library is functioning as both a school library for the Compassion International School as well as a public library. The Gaspar leader team has been very wise and judicious with the expenditures for the library expansion and the implementation of programs.  Since February, the exterior area beside the church had been newly stuccoed and painted; an internet connection in the library with one computer for public use had been added; and two new shelving units had been constructed with an additional one in the planning stages.

The librarians had done a wonderful job of organizing the library, labeling the shelves, putting bar codes on all the books and had started hosting story times. The story times are very popular with both the children and the librarians. Additionally, groups of Compassion children come to the library every day for homework help, tutoring, and quiet reading time. Approximately 300 Compassion children are benefitting from this close association.  

The library is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 -11:30 every morning and from 2:00-5:00 every afternoon. It is also open for special programs at other times. The general public is welcome to come to the library at any time.

Reflections on Pathways from board member, Donna Pauly

Six years and one phone call—I couldn’t have guessed where we’d be today! That fateful call came from my friend, Nancy, asking for my librarian expertise with some books in Spanish for a project being worked on in the Dominican Republic. Her church group wanted to start a library to provide a space where children, women and marginalized groups could learn to read as well as offer other educational opportunities for the community. Of course I wanted to help!

I knew the U.S. concept of a free library system wasn’t available in many countries, and I learned, not in the Dominican Republic. Nancy and her volunteer “crew” got together around her dining room table to process books for the project in Gaspar Hernandez. (Lots of talking, camaraderie and lunch!) As part of that crew, I’ve met wonderfully dedicated women who shared a desire to promote literacy in one small part of the world.

Nancy and I spent hours discussing how best to set up the library and how to label (catalog) each book so that it would be most useful to the residents as they had never experienced a lending library. Additionally, I’ve assisted Nancy with cataloging of new books, assigning reading levels and processing of these books.

More recently I participated in a group discussion to examine activities that promote literacy through establishing libraries in other developing countries. Sarah was the visionary I met that evening as the idea for Pathways to Global Literacy emerged. This is a dynamic group and I was honored to be part of the dialogue.

A humble beginning in one small village in the Dominican Republic…….and now, Pathways to Global Literacy. I’m excited to be part of that future.

Donna Pauly