Monday, December 17, 2012

Se Sentanemililis Revisited

Members of Se Sentanemililis with Elena Poniatowska
 Queridos amigos,

At the end of January 2012, I posted Se Sentanemililis (One Sole Thought) in my blog.  
The post told of a library project I am involved with in a small Nahuatl village in the Sierra Norte of Puebla. Nearly a year has transpired, I am now back in Mexico, and I am very pleased to report that the project is well off the ground and flourishing. The library was officially inaugurated in mid October of this year. The group was honored to have one of Mexico's most venerated authors, Elena Poniatowska, present for the ceremony. (http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Elena_Poniatowska)
 Gaudel Reyes & Elena, with group members
Elena, a long time advocate and supporter of the disenfranchised, has been a strong supporter of the project from the beginning, and she graciously accepted the youth's invitation to be the guest of honor for the inauguration.
The project has been initiated and developed through the determination and hard work of twenty young people from the pueblo. Gaudel Reyes (in blue shirt), a community member now studying human rights law in Puebla, has been one of the leaders of the project. 

Dance group members after inauguration performance

Gaudel asked me to share the following information with you:
• The library is open six days a week from 1:00 to 7:00 pm
•It now contains more than 2000 books
• 20-25 children a day come to the library to do homework and to research projects for school.
• The first literacy event was held in November with 22 children participating.
• The first week after the October inauguration,150 people visited the library.
The Ayotzinapan Community Library

There are many very worthwhile and valuable projects that need support from others to be successful and grow. This is, without doubt, one of them. If any of you are able and would like to make a gift that will make a difference in people's lives, please follow the steps below:
• Send a check payable to Dick Keis with the words One Sole Thought Project in the memo line.
• Mail it to my daughter, Quena Keis:
2076 Lincoln St #1  Eugene, OR. 97405
She will deposit it in the account.
• You can e-mail me ( informing me that you sent a check, and Quena or I can get back to you confirming that the check arrived. It would be good to have e-mail addresses of donors so we can update you as to the progress of the library.
I can draw money directly from that account in pesos without paying any transfer or exchange fees, so 100% of all  donations will go directly to the project.
Last February we raised over $1500 for the project. This enabled the children to finish the construction of the building, get bookshelves, pay someone to be responsible for the operation of the library and  have one cultural event in the new library.
Youth of Se Sentanemililis with Elena

Any funds raised now will be used for cultural and literacy events in the library. The plan is to have one event per month. Workshop presenters will volunteer their time, and Se Sentanemililis will cover transportation costs to Ayotzinapan. Two hotels in Cuetzalan, a pueblo a half an hour away, will offer free lodging to workshop presenters and artists.
I will do a community writing workshop in February. The estimated cost of one event is 1300 pesos ($100 US). If we can raise $1200, it will provide for one event per month. Donors will be kept informed of how the funds are used. In hopes of long term sustainability, the group is seeking donors who will make annual contributions. If you are interested in doing this, they will send a reminder e-mail each year. However, they will gladly accept a one time donation. 

The following letter was sent to donors earlier this summer:
The youth, the indigenous boys and girls of the Se Sentanemililis Organization, send you a cordial greeting, hoping that all goes well for you. At the same time, we take advantage of this letter to express our sincerest thanks for your confidence and support for our educational project. Please know that your support will significantly affect each and every one of the inhabitants of our communities.We will make sure that you receive word of the progress that we make in the project, and be assured, we will not lose this link that we have created.
Inauguration dinner

Se Sentanemililis A.C
¡Muchas gracias!                Thank you very much!

Ayotzinapan, Cuetzalan, Puebla
Orange crate book shelves

Niños de Se Sentanemililis

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Southward Migration

The winter has arrived in Le Lot and this morning I awoke to snow falling wetly from the sky. Since I was wearing most of the clothes that I brought with me and was still cold, I decided it was time to load up my new van in preparation for my southward migration. Much to my dismay, I was informed that December is a very dangerous time to try to round Cape Horn in a van. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with a train ticket to Bordeaux and a plane ticket to Mexico City via Paris. I had to leave a few things at friends' houses here to get down to my one suitcase limit, but I did it! So tomorrow, December 3rd, I join the geese and head south.

But before I leave, I want to recap some of the highlights of my sejour in France and thank my dear friends who put me up (or put up with me) for two months. Since I am still unpacking my van and packing my suitcase, I have to keep this post short. I may rely more on photos to tell this story.

My stay here began and ended in Cazals, in le Lot at my friend Carmel's house. I must say, she has the nicest house in the village! My little apartment was cozy and comfortable, and I spent a good deal of time with her and Peter talking, laughing, sampling some of the fine vintages of the region, and enjoying tasty dinners together in the evening. I also spent some time at the new house that Peter built.
It is a work of art, very earth friendly and modern in style, and the view from the terrace is breathtaking! I will be anxious to see it when it is done and being lived in when I return in April.

My time in Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon was also a gift of friendship. Besides discovering my true identity as Duke Deek IV (previous posting) I also got a unique insight into Rue des Greniers, where my friend Helene lives. I was immediately included into a fine circle of friends who knew how to enjoy life.
Robert and Helene Live at the Chartreuse!!
My encounter with Robert Zurbach was a privilege. Not only did he share his true heroic story of WWII with me, but i also got to hear his incredible tenor voice resounding off the walls of the chapel in the cloister of Le Charteuse. Helene joined him and I was witness to a rare live concert that would have pleased Pope Innocent himself.

Le Chateau, our home in Goult
Our excursions lead us back in time to Goult, where we lived for two years from 1991-92. We had lunch at the Bistro de France, a turn of the century, family run restaurant, that was an experience in itself to dine in. And we had dinner with friends  that made my stay there very special.
Barman at Le bistro de France
Bernard, Francoise, Christiane, Helene et moi

As I prepare to leave for the warm, sunny land further south, I do so with much gratitude to these dear friends who have made me feel so comfortable and welcome in their homes. I never take for granted the wonderful friends that I have north and south, east and west. They give meaning to life and fill it with joy. Merci a tous!

View of the valley from Peter's place