Our mission is to provide access to books for children and youth living in refugee camps in Reynosa on the US-Mexico border and empower caregivers through education about the benefits of shared reading as a way to support both attachment and literacy development.
Many thousands of refugees from Central America, Venezuela and Haiti are living in low resourced refugee camps in Reynosa, Mexico. These people are unable to return to their countries of origin due to violence and unable to seek asylum in the US due to currently immigration policies. They are effectively trapped with little to no support or safety.
Nearly half of those living in Reynosa refugee camps are under the age of 15, and a quarter are under the age of 5. The majority of these children have had limited educational opportunities and may remain displaced throughout their educational years. We found there is limited to no access to books for children in a 3/2022 field assessment. Additionally, we learned that refugee families in Reynosa would like access to physical books and a centrally placed library. We also learned that there is interest in a website for online access to early educational reading materials and thought questions.
Children and caregivers benefit from shared reading and books in many ways. Reading together helps promote attachment and bonding which lays the foundation for healthy emotional development throughout life.
The children living in Reynosa Mexico refugee camps have limited access to books and educational opportunities. It is well documented that children in refugee camps have experienced major disruptions in their educational and emotional development. They have experienced extreme trauma and stress from:
Forced flight from their home countries due to extreme violence, war and natural disaster
Dangerous migration journeys
Prolonged time (months or years) in refugee camps along the US: Mexico border without access to education
Severe trauma during early childhood, which is a critical time of development, can lead to adverse physical and emotional health. The most important factor in reducing the impacts of childhood trauma is supporting attachment with a stable and nurturing caregiver. Empowering families through reading prescriptions for shared reading is a way to support attachment in addition to literacy.
One way to promote attachment and literacy is through shared reading. Shared reading has two key components:
Attachment and bonding: shared reading helps promote attachment and bonding laying the foundation for healthy emotional development.
Language and literacy development: shared reading promotes language and literacy development, increased in vocabulary and understanding of narratives.
The Rise Up And Read team includes a pediatrician, early learning experts and engineers focused on building infrastructure for refugee camps. Rise Up And Read evolved from conversations with migrant families in refugee camps. Despite multiple unimaginable hardships, parents were concerned about their childrens education and language development. In response to these conversations we conducted an initial field assessment from migrant families to better understand their access to books, interest in early literacy and what the families felt would work best (physical books vs web access vs library). Using this information and our collective expertise we created an early literacy project tailored for this unique migrating population. In the past 6 months we have done the following:
Pediatric field assessment to gauge interest, access and best practices about early literacy in Matamoros, Mexico
Distributed 600 age appropriate bilingual early learning books with associated conversation starter "thought questions" as a way to support shared reading.
Developed a patient facing website with access to early learning books read aloud in Spanish and English.
Partnered with Solidarity Engineering, a humanitarian engineering NGO with 2 years of experience working in the refugee camps in Reynosa
Started building the safe reading space library and playground in a Reynosa refugee shelter.
Solidarity Engineering is a humanitarian response engineering organization working in the Reynosa Refugee camps and shelters by providing community driven engineering solutions for people in crisis. Among other projects they are currently building a playground with a library space. They have been providing direct engineering and technical support to tis vulnerable population for the past 2 years and are well respected and integrated into the Reynosa refugee population.
Learn more about Solidarity Engineering at solidarity engineering.org