“We read to know we’re not alone.”
― William Nicholson, Shadowlands
I had many photos to accompany this post, but I received a call this morning telling me that it is against Nicaraguan law to post pictures of Nicaraguan police in uniform. I had no idea! So, I deleted my Facebook post with the pictures of the police reading to the students and I deleted the photos on my blog post to respect the privacy of the officers and the Nicaraguan law.
Our tiny police force on Ometepe Island consists of 14 police officers in Moyogalpa. They receive a pittance of pay and often work long hours without money for office supplies, gas for their vehicles, etc.
When they helped me recover my phone which was stolen from my house by my 15 yr. old friend, I repaid their kindness with a bag of office supplies for their bare bones office.
The other day my police buddy called me to ask if he could come to my house to talk. He mentioned the word “molestar” and I feared we were in trouble. Instead, when he arrived, he introduced me to the new officer and asked if I could give him a notebook and a pen.
I sighed a big sigh of relief because I realized he simply said on the phone that he didn’t want to bother me. “No quiero a molestar.”
I had him make a list of office supplies the police force needed…a very simple list with notebooks, pens, a scissors, and stapler. Then I purchased the supplies and took them to the office. I also went to the gas station and bought a voucher for gasoline for their vehicles.
The officers were very appreciative and asked in return what they could do for me. I asked if they could come to my elementary school library and read the children a story. I think it is important for the police to be role models for their community and I can think of no better way for them to help me develop a culture of reading than to start at the elementary level.
Yesterday, they picked me up in their police truck, and we went to the La Paloma Elementary School to read to the preschoolers. I had to laugh as I rode in the police truck because the neighbors were all freaking out! I know I created quite a stir!
They chose books to read to the class. Jorge ( not real name) chose a book about birds, while the other officer practiced reading Clifford the Big Red Dog. I could tell they were nervous, but I told them the preschoolers don’t care and they will enjoy your attention, even if you only talk to them.
Jorge is a natural teacher! He asked the children questions about the birds and interacted with the children with humor and understanding.
At one point, the children broke out in a song about colors and birds and entertained Jorge!
After Jorge finished reading to the preschool class, it was time for their lunch. The other officer didn’t have a chance to read to the class, and I think he was disappointed. So, Jorge asked me if he could return the next week to read another story to the class.
As they were getting into the police truck, Jorge said, “Deborah, we can read to other schools, too. We could go to Esquipulas, Moyogalpa, and Los Angeles to read.”
I was overwhelmed with their generosity and compassion. What started as a simple gift to me in return for office supplies, has the potential to become so much more! They are a bridge to establishing mutual understanding among community members. They are the connection to developing a culture of reading. And most importantly, they are the bridge to peaceful understanding in our troubled world.
I am proud to call them my friends! They demonstrated to the children that “we read to know that we are not alone.” And this is only the beginning of the story!