How do you ask for help to equip a Learning Resource Centre in South America when you’re already isolated from the rest of the world?

Kristin Adkins decided an appeal to folks back home in Botetourt would be one way.

Kristin and Chris Adkins in front of a traditional Guyana building that serves as a ladies' centre for making snacks, catering, etc. It is what all local buildings and homes look like, Kristin said, with sun-baked bricks and palm thatched roof. The Learning Resource Centre, she said, is a government building with a zinc roof and concrete.
Kristin and Chris Adkins in front of a traditional Guyana building that serves as a ladies' centre for making snacks, catering, etc. It is what all local buildings and homes look like, Kristin said, with sun-baked bricks and palm thatched roof. The Learning Resource Centre, she said, is a government building with a zinc roof and concrete.

She and husband Chris are Peace Corps volunteers in an Amerindian village deep in the interior of Guyana, South America—considered the poorest country in South America.

Kristin works in the Learning Resource Centre providing support for the schools in the community. The center loans reading and other material to teachers, students and community members and offers other support in an effort to help with education and to improve literacy.

Kristin’s challenge, though, is having resources for the resource centre. There just aren’t many, so she’s trying to raise funds to purchase reading material, teaching aids and organizational tools to make the centre user-friendly.

She needs $1,640 to buy materials, and she’s asking for donations. (See how to donate below).

The Amerindian community has offered to provide transportation of the materials (not a simple task), make the shelving and purchase a set of nonfiction reading materials. Community members also will provide labor to organize the centre, according to Kristin’s appeal through the Peace Corps.

Kristin said few resources make it into the community because transportation is such an issue—unpaved muddy roads, flooded rivers and isolation have made it difficult to fulfill the needs at the resource centre.

The Learning Resource Centre was opened by the Guyana Ministry of Education to address the very challenges associated with the isolated community, but because of the lack of funding, the centre is operating with very limited material, Kristin said.

Kristin’s appeal has three goals:

• So students will have opportunities to sharpen their literacy skills and encourage their love of reading with appropriate reading material.

• So teachers will have resources available to use in their classrooms and to continue their own education, improving literacy and numeracy teaching skills.

• So community members will find resources to contribute to their own learning, particularly technical and vocational information.

Kristin thought The Herald might help her get the word out about her project. She had corresponded through email with The Herald about another possible project last winter, but it turned out she didn’t need any help.

Her mother (she’s the daughter of Terri and Robert Denison of Troutville) put her in touch with the newspaper.

When this project came up, she thought of the paper again.

Husband Chris works for the hospital where he assists in clinics for mothers and children 0-5 years of age.

Kristin and Chris have been in Guyana more than a year, since February 2009, and just celebrated their third wedding anniversary.

They have no electricity, no running water  and so few other amenities that living simple has its own meaning there. They’ve “adjusted” to a completely different diet than what they were accustomed to in the states, but they’ve found rewards in their own sacrifices.

“We have adjusted rather well to the local culture,” Kristin wrote in an email. “We are just struggling to adjust to the heat!” She did not add “the bugs and mosquitos,” but her other correspondence refer often to the critters that are a constant nuisance—and the malaria pills they take to avoid that disease.

“There is a strong sense of determined self-sufficiency here,” she continued. “Most families still maintaining themselves by farming. The people here are quiet and hard working, and they are interested to know how education can improve the lives of their children.”

She reiterated that the remote location makes it difficult to receive education supplies so teaching is a very difficult job. The funds she’s asking for will purchase teaching resources, storybooks and reading books for children and adults.

“Our students are so excited to have a Learning Resource Centre that is supplied with lots of reading and story books—many of them don’t have books at home. When they read storybooks, their imaginations are open to worlds outside of their own experience,” Kristin added.

Kristin is a 2003 graduate of Roanoke Valley Christian School and graduated in 2007 from Berea College with degrees in sociology and education studies.

She met Chris at Berea where he graduated in 2007 with a psychology degree. He’s from Kentucky.

They joined the Peace Corps in early 2008 and trained for two months before heading for Guyana where they’ll serve until April 2011 (“Two months of training, followed by two years of service,” Kristin wrote).

“We wanted to spend time living abroad, living a different life and doing so with the benefit of local people,” Kristin said of their decision to join the Peace Corps. “Peace Corps allowed us to start doing that right away, even with student loans.”

To make a contribution to Kristin’s Learning Resource Centre project, go to: www.peacecorps.gov. Click on “Donate to Volunteer Projects” on the left side of the Peace Corps page. On the page that comes up, enter either Adkins or project number 504-012. That will take you to the donation page. Credit cards and electronic checking are accepted.

Or, go directly to: https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projdetail&projdesc=504-012.

For more information, email Kristin at: chrisnkristin@gmail.com.

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