By John Allman
The Navajo Nation is the largest reservation by land area in the United States.
During a period of continued Covid that remains out of control on most of the Navajo Nation, traditional Navajo Solar Light (NSL) installations are still not safe and feasible. To continue our service and to bring light to the elders and to students, a bookmobile provides a way that Navajo residents can do those installations for us. The Chinle Plants Hope trained personnel and volunteers, who drive the bookmobile, do the solar light installations … we, Rotary, provides the light kits, tools, and materials required for the installations.
The humanitarian issue is simply this:
The impact of the COVID pandemic on Navajo children has been significant. Children have been out of school and many lack reliable internet for access to online education.
- 67% of third graders and 89% of high schoolers on the Navajo Nation lack reading proficiency.
- 30-40% of families on the Navajo Nation do not have electricity, running water or toilet facilities in their homes.
- The nearest library is over 70 miles away from the Chinle Chapter of the Navajo Nation.
- Many roads are unpaved dirt, unpassable when rain comes.
Without solar lights or electricity, elders and children use kerosene to light their homes. This comes with an inherent danger of fire as well as health degradation due to the soot emitted from kerosene lamps. The light can be detached and used as a flashlight for safely going outside at night. The kit includes a charging outlet for cell phones that enhances the resident’s safety and contact with family.
The Navajo Literacy Project (NLP) addresses all of these issues.
The Rotary eClub of the State of Jefferson’s Foundation has donated $5,000.00 towards this project and received word that a District 5110 Grant request was recently approved for an additional $5,000.00
Significance of R.E.A.D. in Beauty
There is an essential Navajo concept, “Walking in Beauty,” which entails living in harmony – Hozho – with both one’s self, and the natural world. This concept is centered around making good choices and expressing love.
Chinle Planting Hope has adapted the concept of “Walking in Beauty” to the Bookmobile project. Its goal, and therefore its name, is “R.E.A.D. in Beauty,” because it aims to help Navajo children and families experience harmony through expanded educational opportunities in a respectful learning environment.
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