Bookworms benefit from the book ship

written by OM International

Logos Hope’s crewmembers have teamed up with a retired headteacher in her mission to improve reading standards in Curaçao, by volunteering at a reading club for local children.

Elsie Smith saw a need in Willemstad, the island’s capital city, and decided she wanted to make a difference in her community. Having worked at a primary school for 21 years, Elsie was aware that the students had no interest in reading. So she started an after-school programme, Fundashon pa Stimula Lesamentu, next to the college she had been headmistress of.

Almost 20 years on, the reading club has 80 students whose parents pay a nominal monthly fee. The club runs from 3-6pm every day except Sunday. The programme of study focusses on learning to read the Dutch language, which is widely-used on the Netherlands Antilles island, but there are also music lessons on the cuatro guitar and recorder, dance and chess classes and teaching from the Bible.

Coming to the club has given the 8-12 year olds a new love of reading. They especially enjoyed their outing to ‘the book ship’, before Logos Hope closed temporarily for her annual maintenance.

It was also a joy for four crewmembers to spend a week at the reading foundation, where they brightened up the walls by painting colourful characters and entertained the children. The team donated 50 books in English as well as a set of Spanish encyclopaedias, as these languages are on the curriculum for more advanced students.

Stephen Mew (USA), who serves as Logos Hope’s purser, says “The books we gave them ranged from children’s books to Bible stories, books about the human body and a world atlas. We passed them around for the students to choose from and spent time reading with the kids individually. They were really well-received and we very much enjoyed helping out.”

The club’s founder, Elsie, voiced her appreciation by telling the crewmembers, “I am very glad for the work you have done. You have come to do this voluntarily and I did not have to pay anyone. You did it with passion for the children, and every day you came with a smile on your face.”