Mules are noble creatures. This is especially true for the inhabitants of Trujillo, one of Venezuela’s three Andean states.
According to a BBC report, mules are four-legged libraries in these parts, thanks to an innovative service from University of Momboy, a small institution that prides itself on its community-based initiatives.
We reached Calembe, the first village on this path.
Anyone who was not out working the fields – tending the celery that is the main crop here – was waiting for our arrival. The 23 children at the little school were very excited.
“Bibilomu-u-u-u-las,” they shouted as the bags of books were unstrapped. They dived in eagerly, keen to grab the best titles and within minutes were being read to by Christina and Juana, two of the project leaders.
“Spreading the joy of reading is our main aim,” Christina Vieras told me.
Not content to stop at books, Robert Ramirez, the co-ordinator of the university’s Network of Enterprising Rural Schools, also wants to hook the remote villagers up to the Web.
“We want to install wireless modems under the banana plants so the villagers can use the internet,” says Ramirez. “Imagine if people in the poor towns in the valley can e-mail saying how many tomatoes they’ll need next week, or how much celery. The farmers can reply telling them how much they can produce. It’s blending localisation and globalisation.”