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The bookmobile, or a beautiful chapter of solidarity with Cuba

September 12, 2009

The bookmobile, or a beautiful chapter of solidarity with Cuba
http://www.kaosenlared.net/noticia/biblio-bus-hermosa-pagina-solidaridad-cuba
El enlace es en español.

by Pedro Campos

Deeds like this always remind us that international solidarity can perform miracles.

Dana Lubow and Rhonda Neugebauer are two U.S. librarians who have written a beautiful chapter of solidarity with the Cuban people. By their own means and with the help of their other citizens, they acquired an old bookmobile designed to serve as a mobile library, made it function, decorated it, filled it with books and brought it to Cuba.

Perhaps for those who see the bookmobile winding along the streets and roads in the province of Granma, in the easternmost part of the country, don’t know the sacrifices and all of the work that Dana and Rhonda had to do in order to achieve that objective. This piece tries to give humble recognition to the effort of these friends of Cuba who, with their modest action but imbued with an enormous altruistic spirit, made a significant cultural contribution to the Cuban people and wrote a beautiful chapter of solidarity.

The story began to take shape on one of the trips that both friends made to Cuba to exchange experiences about the work of libraries. They communicated their ideas to colleague Eliades Acosta, then the director of the National Library, who welcomed them.

Upon their return to California where they both work, they set about researching the real possibilities of buying a bookmobile. In August 2006 they found a bus fitted out to function as a mobile library on an Internet auction site on the Internet. They entered the virtual auction and after several days participating they acquired it at a value of seven thousand dollars.

Since the bus was in Gentry, MO, in the middle of the country, Dana went to get it, driving it to Los Angeles, CA, a trip more than 2300 miles. Once the bookmobile was in Los Angeles they founded the group, Books for Cuba= Libros para Cuba and created a blog on the Internet to solicit donations, which would allow them to repair and paint the bookmobile and obtain the books.

In order to make the trip to Cuba they joined one of the caravans organized every year by Pastors for Peace to bring school materials and other material aid. The work was possible through the collaboration of many U.S. citizens, who gave donations and participated directly in the packing of books, painting, and repair of the bookmobile.

For the decoration of the outside of the bookmobile, Dana and Rhonda asked Gerardo Hernández to create a design. Gerardo is a hero of Cuba who is a prisoner of the U.S. government for fighting terrorism against his country.

In 2007 they made a first attempt to bring the bus to Cuba, but the bus broke down in Phoenix, AZ. Finally it was repaired and arrived in Cuba in August 2008 on the 19th caravan of Pastors for Peace—two years after having acquired the bus—in a demonstration of perseverance and self-sacrifice that deserves all the respect and affection of the Cuban people.

Currently the bookmobile serves the library of Bayamo in the province of Granma.

Deeds like this always remind us that international solidarity can perform miracles.

Infinite thanks to Dana and Rhonda, who let us know that any person can send a message to Gerardo very quickly by sending an e-mail to Tanya Torres, the radio programmer of “Cantos sin Fronteras” (cantosinfronteraskpfk@yahoo.com), who will read it for Gerardo on the air. Gerardo assiduously listens to the program every Saturday from 6-8 p.m. Pacific Time (9-11pm Cuban time). “Cantos sin Fronteras” is a Spanish-language progam of Latin American music on KPFK Los Angeles, which can be heard online at http://www.kpfk.org. Its first song is international music from anywhere in the world, and all music on the program always has social/political content. Cuban Trova is plentiful.

We take this opportunity to wish compañero [comrade] Gerardo a happy birthday, hoping he receives many messages of solidarity and thanking him and his other four companeros for their extraordinary example of integrity revolutionary fortitude.

Socialism for life

Havana, June 7, 2009

translation Dana Lubow 8-23-09

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