Paraguayan Panorama Bicentennial Photo Exhibit

Kansans will soon be able to experience Paraguay through the eyes of children, thanks to a joint effort of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Paraguay and the Kansas Paraguay Partners.  Peace Corps workers taught youngsters in rural Paraguay to use digital cameras, and then turned them loose for several days to capture images of their choice.  The result is a realistic – and often exquisitely artistic – series of 60 winning prints that truly represent rural Paraguay as seen through the eyes of its future leaders.

The exhibit will tour Kansas throughout 2011 in observance of the 200th Anniversary of Paraguayan independence from Spain.  The photographs will be on display during our annual meeting in the spring.

Ahecha Paraguay (Ahecha means, “I see” in the indigenous language of the Guaraní)  is a participatory photography project designed to provide Paraguayan youth the opportunity to develop their creativity and self-confidence, as well as capture Paraguayan culture and life through the lens of a digital camera. Ahecha means, “I see” in the indigenous language of the Guaraní. The project provides a kit of digital cameras to Peace Corps Volunteers who administer photography workshops within their communities. The two month long workshop provides a minimum of 16 hours of hands-on camera work for each participant, along with a classroom review, and discussion of other peer and professional photographs. Volunteers teach the youth the basics of photography through pre-composed highly interactive workshops that promote discovery, creativity, and analysis. Ahecha Paraguay also includes photo exchanges between participating communities as a means of fostering understanding of other peoples and pride in one’s own work and community. Ahecha Paraguay culminates on an annual basis with national exhibitions of selected photographs from every community in the capital, Asunción.

If you would like to bring this exhibition to your community, please contact Graham Kreicker  via  email  at kreicker@sunflower.com

A Big Thank You to KPP!

A Big Thank to KPP!This top photo is a big thanks from the kids for their books because many of the books were shipped down with funds from the last KPP annual fundraiser.–this photographic thank you  is for the Kansas Paraguay Partners!

Beth Chronister has returned from her Peace Corps stint in Paraguay. She sent us a note with the enclosed photos from the library which KPP helped build with our donation of books. The  photo below is  of the “ribbon pulling” ceremony.
From left to right: Beth Chronister, the Peace Corps Director, the U.S. Ambassdor Liliana Ayalde, and the local school’s
principal.

(There are more photos of the library in the Rincon VIP section of our website)

Ribbon Pulling Ceremony

Here is Beth’s note:
I have returned from Paraguay upon completion of my two years of Peace Corps service at the end of April. Before I left many exciting things happened with the school library project that Kansas Paraguay Partners supported. The last few months of my service was full of fund raising and construction as we built a classroom (supported by a fund from Peace Corps and money/materials from the community) to house the library collection which almost reached a 1000 books starting from 0! This all came to a culmination with a wonderful building dedication that was attended by the Ambassador of the US to Paraguay and the director of Peace Corps Paraguay. From my communications since with the community, the library is being used weekly for check out to the homes, cared for by the principal, 6th grade teacher and new volunteer.

The library, Arandu Rekavo (a place of learning and discovery roughly), is located in a compania of La Colmena in Paraguari (about 3 bus hours from Asuncion). It is a community of about 500 people, 100 homes and the elementary school has approximately 90 students. It is a rural community, largely based on agriculture and animal husbandry, though there are also people working as teachers, nurses or sending money from work in the capital or from other countries. The building was built Feb-Apr 2009 with a grant from US Aid through Peace Corps, and supported by the community through donated supplies, labour and fundraising. The collection was made through donations from here in Kansas and from within Paraguay.

I would say most importantly, before the creation of this library, there were hardly any books in the community. Books in Paraguay are too expensive for the majority of the population and generally there is not a culture of reading. But once the library began circulation– over 200 books were going into the homes and classrooms each week! These are not only read by the students, but also their older siblings and family members. It was incredible to see a love of reading being begun in the community. I hope that the books serve as a spark to a sustained ability and desire to read, research and expand the mind for the rest of the students lives.

Here is a copy of the plaque that was unveiled at the dedication that recognizes the donors including KPP.

Placa de la biblioteca

What am I up to now? I am currently living between Lawrence and Topeka and preparing for entering graduate school in 2010 to pursue a masters in divinity. I am also spending my downtime the same way I did in Peace Corps, with my Paraguayan cat and drinking terere :) I miss the people very much and am fortunate that there are now ways to continue communications. I hope I will be able to visit within a couple years.

And once again, gracias, thank you, aguje for all the help and support to the make the hope of a rural library a reality.

Submitted by Beth Chronister

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