Friday, February 1, 2013

A library computerized, a community empowered.

Photo from PCV Sara Cooper, Starobelsk, UA
I just participated, via Skype, in the Starobelsk Library's grand celebration of getting computers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Bibliomist project.  It was wonderful to see the library filled with friends and people from the community. A special day. I  was asked to say a few words.  Friends were waving joyously in the background.  Vera Flyat, my counterpart at the human rights NGO Victoria, poked her head in and blew kisses. People were giving the "thumbs up" sign.  I said a few words, as I was asked to do. "Ето мечта поняль. This is a dream come true!"

As I wrote in my last blog, we started in the fall of 2009, creating the library's first English club and English-language  book collection, and step by step applied to Bibliomist for the computers.  Anyone who's applied for grants from large foundations knows this is a challenging process.  Peace Corps Volunteers who came after me, Amy and Sara, moved the project along.  Amy said it took about 5 attempts.  I am so proud that the Library, director Iryna Andreenov, and friends of the library kept at it.

Now almost 4 years later, the Starobelsk Public Library has computers and online access to a whole new world of knowledge, communications and connections. . It has WiFi; it's wired!  "It shows we can work together and make good things happen.  Never give up!"  The audience cheered.

What a a huge difference this achievement will make to the library and the entire community it serves.  Natalia Dohadailo, my dear friend, English teacher and interpreter, said that already more people are using the Library and the computers are very popular.  Peace Corps makes a difference.  A library computerized.  A community empowered! .
Lugansk oblast, far-eastern UA 

The  "rayon" area of small towns and rural villages
 around  Starobelsk in far-eastern Ukraine
(Lugansk oblast) served by the Starobelsk Biblioteca.

Ukraine in white, Eastern Europe,
on Russain border


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