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Castle Pines family starts library in Costa Rica with help from community

Pictured above from left to right are Kim Gilliom, Trent Writer hugging Rose Writer, Ashley Gilliom, Daren Writer and Alexandra Gilliom. Trent and Daren, fourth graders at Buffalo Ridge Elementary School, recently completed a book drive for the library in Ojochal. The boys created their storyboards, approached their teachers and presented their cause to their classrooms.

By Carin R. Kirkegaard with photos provided by Rose Writer

In January 2008, Castle Pines resident Rose Writer, along with her family, held a book and used clothes drive at Timber Trail Elementary and started a library in Ojochal, a small village in Costa Rica. Since that first book drive, Writer has held more drives, opened the library in Ojochal and has plans of opening a second library in Uvita, another Costa Rican village about an hour from Ojochal.

The seed for the library was planted in Writer’s mind when her friend Kim Gilliom relocated her family to Ojochal. Gilliom enrolled her two daughters in the local village school and discovered that there were no books. In a call to her friend, Gilliom expressed her concern for her daughter’s education and moving to the small Costa Rican village. Writer quickly reassured her friend and promised to send books.

It wasn’t just Gilliom’s children in need, however. Writer saw an entire school of children needing reading material. From sending a few books overseas to her friend’s daughters, Writer’s idea for a library took root. Writer wanted to help all the children find the joy of reading a book and she started the work of gathering books to send over.

“Our first drive consisted of books written entirely in English. I was humbled. There was such a great need for books written in Spanish,” commented Writer.

Going forward, Writer started seeking books written in Spanish. In January 2009, she partnered with Rock Canyon High School’s Key Club and took more than 11 boxes of books to add to the growing library.

In addition to collecting books, Writer also seeks gently used summer clothes for men, women and children. These clothes are sold at minimal cost to the villagers visiting the library and help to keep the lights on in the library, run the dehumidifiers and print library cards. Recently the clothing sales helped to raise $15 to fix a leaking roof.

The library in Ojochal has touched many. Not only the locals living in Ojochal, but villages from all around the area. The Baruca Indian tribe comes monthly to check out books and take them back to the village.

From princess day story times to posting local meetings, the library has also become a place for the community to come together with cultural happenings. In early November, Ojochal received more than three feet of rain that washed out roads and bridges and the library was set up as a center for those seeking refuge.

Writer sees this path to opening a library one she set out on while growing up in Utah, where she found refuge in her own local library.

“Get a child to read and you’ve changed the world,” said Writer.

To learn more about the library or how to contribute contact Writer by e-mail.


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