WaterBridge Outreach, Water in Multicultural Children’s Books and Project Splash Asia!

As 2012 draws to a close and I reflect on our website themes over the past year, one of my favorites was The Theme of Water in Multicultural Children’s Books . We decided to do this focus in part because of the crucial role that water plays in our WaterBridge Outreach project (WBO) which provides donations of new multicultural children’s books to schools and libraries, while engaging with local communities to obtain access to clean water in areas of need throughout the world. In his recent PaperTigers 10th Anniversary article,  Executive Director Dr. Peter Coughlan wrote about the history of PaperTigers and how WBO came to be:

The most recent development in the PaperTigers story is – alongside the main site and the blog, which continue through from the second and third phases – WaterBridge Outreach, as summed up in the phrase Books+Water: Nourishing the Mind and Body. This springs from the desire firstly, to put books into the hands of children, especially in areas of need around the world – multicultural books that children can enjoy and that help open young minds and hearts to the world beyond their immediate experience. Secondly, I have been lecturing for some time at a college of the University of London in the area of applied ethics and, specifically, about the challenges facing our world at the nexus of water, food and energy in the context of climate change/global warming. Literacy and reading yes, but the lack of clean water and basic sanitation is a significant impediment to education, especially the education of girls, in too many parts of the world. Thinking about this led to the decision to expand our programs in 2009/2010 under the banner of PaperTigers: Books+Water, thus including not only the PaperTigers site and blog but also the practical WaterBridge Outreach programs – books and water here being specific expressions of the insight that education and the meeting of basic human needs must move forward together.

Since WBO’s inception we have been involved in various water projects in :

Matènwa Community Learning Center ~ Lagonav, Haiti

Tamilnadu ViIlage Outreach (TVO) Tuition Schools ~ Tamilnadu, India 

and Kiphire, Nagaland, India

As we move into 2013 we hope to further develop our projects in the above-mentioned areas as well as look at the possible development of similar projects in Guatemala and South Sudan, and work with Navajo and Hopi colleagues in education about water and water needs in Native American areas of Arizona. Dr. Coughlan will be going to Nagaland and Tamil Nadu in December this year to develop our projects, and our Outreach Coordinator Theresa Gee will be going to Arizona. Writers Gail Tsukiyama and Mary Roach will be joining Dr. Coughlan in India – the beginnings of an initiative that Gail hopes to develop as Writers for WaterBridge Outreach.

Exciting news for the coming year is that 2013 has been declared the United Nations International Year of the Water! The year will highlight the history of successful water cooperation initiatives, as well as identify issues on water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks, and more!  Community and school programs in many countries will include reading, performing and creating water-themed stories. Water-themed children’s stories will also be highlighted at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore under the banner Project Splash Asia!  PaperTigers is working with The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal to compile a bibliography of favourite water-themed children’s stories from or about the Asian region. If you have a title to suggest we would love to hear from you! Email me at corinne(at)papertigers(dot)org

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