In Part 1 of this interview with Adriana Bueno, Founder of Habitat Sur, in the Colombia Amazon, she shared how the Bibliovan was born and what she had to overcome to be where she is. Here, she shares what breaks her heart (like tree cutting in the Amazon Rainforest), how to get involved, step by step process of the Bibliovan project and more. – Margarita Cramer
What Did I Do Today to Make a Difference?
MC: What inspires you?
AB: Brave people who take action and pursue their dreams, no matter how difficult their dreams are to achieve great inspiration. Communities that decide to take their problems in their own hands and work collectively to overcome them inspire me and give me strength to keep going.
MC: What breaks your heart?
AB: My heart breaks when I see kids and young people wasting their lives in front of TVs, immersed on their mobile phones, playing video games or falling in the vicious circle of drugs and crime because they think there are no better opportunities for them.
My heart breaks when trees are cut down in the rainforests and people live in dire conditions because they have depleted their natural resources, contaminated their water and got completely disconnected from their natural habitat.
MC: What is an important lesson you learned and whom did you learn it from?
AB: I learned from a former boss I admire a lot to find every day ways to serve others, to give, to be useful, to help the environment and at the end of the day to ask myself “What did I do today to make a difference?”
MC: Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? Next?
AB: I talked with the poorest people in Leticia when I was volunteering for an art project. Many of them asked for help for their kids and teens to better use their free time before they get into trouble.
I started asking kids if they like to read and what they like to read. The issue was that they didn’t have books and they had never set foot in the only public library of the city.
I started bringing groups of kids to the library and also bringing a reading promoter from the library to the neighborhoods to do reading circles with the kids. During these sessions, I used to ask them what they thought about a library on wheels going around the city and they all were very excited. They even drew how they envisioned it and I would write down all their ideas about how it should look and what features it should have.
After a friend’s encouragement, a Grant from TPP and the unconditional support of our local Police Department Commander the BiblioVan was born!
“When TPP gave me the wonderful news that my project had been selected for a grant, I was over the moon. This gave me all the confidence I needed to go forward and to fully believe this was a good idea and I could make it happen with their help!”
We spent three months non-stop building the van, being very creative and re-using lots of things to make furniture, bookshelves and decorations. There were many volunteers and donations (like cabinets and PVC tubes to build shelves) and we all had so much fun working together!
The BiblioVan and our first “Fridge Little Public Library” were publicly launched in October 2014. The ceremony was held in Leticia’s main park. People in attendance were the Commander of the Police Department, the Mayor of Leticia, teachers from several schools and universities in Colombia, family, friends and lots of kids!! A lot of people donated books and games for the BiblioVan that day!
Something else wonderful has happened. The Bibliovan has helped the police interact better with the local community and to build constructive relationships with people in the city. We also have Reading Promoters who train the police and organize special art workshops and activities around the BiblioVan and the little public library.
MC: If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give your best tip, what would it be?
AB: Read a lot, reuse, recycle and volunteer for a cause you believe in!
If you are interested in helping Habitat Sur, you can contact TPP or Adriana directly by visiting: www.construyecolombia.wordpress.com (choice to select English) or visit their Facebook page: facebook.com/habitatsur