The Book Project
in conjunction with CANFRO’s partner, LIBROS para PUEBLOS
As Gamaliel looks back, he can trace a line from his current role as a Libros para Pueblos Regional Coordinator to a request he made to his mother, when he was only eight years old. That was his age when he asked his mother to take him to the library in his hometown of Huajuapan de León to participate in summer workshops for kids. Before long, he was going by himself. He enjoyed the games, puppets, and excursions. “It was in that moment that books began to take on an importance in my life,” he says. “I remember many good times from my childhood, thanks to the library,”
With the guidance of library director Beatriz Sánchez Ramirez (Betty), he discovered books about insects and marine animals. As time went on, his interests widened. Books became passports to other worlds and times, real and imaginary, transporting him to Hogwarts, and to the Middle Ages. Betty, later to become LpP’s first Regional Coordinator, showed him the way. “All of it helped me to socialize and start to see what I wanted for the future,” he says. That future included a move to the city of Oaxaca where he studied Language Teaching. When he finished, he returned to Huajuapan. There he met Betty again, still displaying the same passion for reading that had sparked his childhood interest in books. Now a young adult, Gamaliel joined Betty in the library she founded, called “Club Chaalulu” (“Little child” in Mixteco).
Since Betty’s death in 2017, Gamaliel has continued her legacy, becoming a Regional Coordinator in the Huajuapan area for LpP and the leader of “Club Chaalulu.” Library work in rural Mexico isn’t easy. The public library in Gamaliel’s community suffered damage in the 2017 earthquake that has still not been repaired. In Mexico, one works with books for “the love of the art,” he says. But working with LpP has been a positive experience. It has allowed him to become more skillful at administering the library and in promoting the habit of reading. His goal is for young readers to have the same opportunity he had to improve their future, “so that in the future, reading improves the living conditions of each reader.”
As for himself, Gamaliel says: “today I can say it was a good decision to be ‘a library child’.”