This summer, BookSpring took its mission on the road and headed south toward the border of Mexico. In association with the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, we brought joy and a sense of ownership to refugee children in detention centers as well as families on their journey for asylum.
With 1000 Spanish and bilingual books in hand, volunteers set off to San Juan to meet representatives from the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
BookSpring Executive Director, Emily Ball Cicchini said, “We decided to go a little bit beyond our boundaries. It was a big project to take on outside of our Central Texas focus, but we took the opportunity to help the lives of refugee families.”
While we received a warm welcome at the center, there was a sense of sadness that pervaded the entire compo. Many people milling around waiting for next steps.
Members of the Catholic Charities graciously allowed us to also train the coordinators on site on how to distribute children’s books in a controlled, meaningful way by implementing our program models to maximize the effects of the books.
As we began to open the boxes the children came forward out of curiosity. “No, no, un momento,” we said gently, and the children paused, and waited in turn to select their very own book to keep. And then, just like other kids do, these beautiful children selected their “forever” book and immediately brought it close to their chest, cradling it with both arms crossed.
The concept “pride of ownership” really came into play. We hope these children will grow up into a world filled with books, ideas, and all the opportunities for a safe, happy, productive life.
We are grateful to the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley for hosting us on this pilgrimage and urge others to consider supporting their efforts to help the humanitarian crisis happening along our border.