An Inspired Elementary School Teacher Launches a Revolution in Reading For Colombia’s Rural Children in POV’s “Biblioburro: The Donkey Library,” Premiering Tuesday, July 19, 2011, on PBS
By Megan Burt, Community Engagement & Education Intern, American Documentary POV
Luis Soriano is surely the most famous resident of La Gloria, a small town in a rural area of northern Colombia plagued by poverty, crime and armed insurrection. But Soriano's fame has little to do with guns, drugs or politics. His reputation rests on the eight hooves of two sturdy donkeys named Alfa and Beto, his own two feet and his willingness to spend weekends tramping through rugged and dangerous backcountry. These are the components of a simple but brilliant idea - using donkeys to bring a circulating library of donated books to the children in some of Colombia's poorest and most remote towns and villages.
Carlos Rendón Zipagauta's new documentary Biblioburro: The Donkey Library, tells the story of 39-year-old Soriano and his traveling library from the point of view of the man himself and, one might say, his two hardworking burros. The film rides along with Soriano on one of his arduous weekend rounds and discovers a world of dense tropical beauty, nearly impassible trails, dangers both natural (snakes, swollen streams) and human (guerillas, bandits), open air classrooms and, most wonderfully, a thirst for reading and knowledge. But Biblioburro is also a portrait of Soriano - an unassuming small-town elementary school teacher who not only had a great idea, but has been acting on it every weekend for over a decade.
Biblioburro: The Donkey Library has its national broadcast premiere next Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 10 p.m. on PBS during the 24th season of POV (Point of View), which airs on Tuesdays through Sept. 27 and concludes with special broadcasts in 2011 and 2012. Click here to view a video trailer and learn more about the film.