I'm Phoebe Zimmermann with the VOA Special English
Andrew Carnegie became rich in the American steel industry. But he
spent much of his life giving away his money. One of his main interests
was developing libraries in small towns. Andrew Carnegie died in 1919.
Now a non-profit group in the United States has taken some of his ideas
to Central America, especially Guatemala and Honduras. The Riecken
Foundation has opened 15 libraries in the past five years. Seven more
are being built.
The goal is to help people explore new worlds. Not just through books,
but also through computers connected to the Internet. The hope is to build
as many as 1000 libraries throughout Central America.
The Riecken Foundation provides much of the cost of building the
structures as well as paying for the books and computers. The group also
trains committees to make the policies that govern how a library operates.
Members of these library committees are not paid. They provide land for
the building and pay for a full-time librarian. They also pay for water
and electricity for the library.
Some of the people who work for the Riecken Foundation are former
members of the Peace Corps. This government program sends Americans to
help communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They work for two
years or more with very little pay.
The foundation was created in 2000 by Allen Andersson, a
businessman. He served in the Peace Corps in Honduras in the 1960s. The
very first employee, Meredith Bellows, served in Guatemala several years
ago. Now she is a director of the foundation.
Miz Bellows worked in the small community of San Juan la Laguna. A
story in G.W. Magazine in 2002 described her work. Miz Bellows
trained poor women who received small business loans. She told how she
taught one woman to bake bread
in ovens built from simple materials.
The library in the town is extremely small. But things are about to
change. Meredith Bellows tells us that this week a bigger library will be
completed in San Juan la Laguna.
Internet users can learn more about the Riecken Foundation at
This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Gary
Garriott. I'm Phoebe Zimmermann.