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Teacher Luis Soriano brings books to rural Colombian children — with the help of Beto the donkey.
LA GLORIA, Colombia — Primary school teacher Luis Soriano had a problem. His students in the northern Colombian village of La Gloria were slacking off and showing little interest in learning. Part of the problem was their reading material: They didn't have any. The sons and daughters of impoverished farmers, few had access to expensive books in their homes, while teachers like Soriano had just a handful of textbooks to pass around their classrooms.
So, Soriano launched a book-mobile to distribute childrens' stories, poems, atlases — even "The Guinness Book of World Records" — to kids living in remote hamlets. He faced two hurdles. Many communities were so far off the grid that they couldn't be reached by vehicles. Another fine point was that Soriano, who earns about $300 a month, didn't own a car. Not to be stopped, he built a couple of book shelves to fit onto the back of his trusty donkey, Beto. Now, Soriano and his steed ply the dusty trails of northern Magdalena state, bringing "Robin Hood" and "Don Quixote" to a new generation of Colombian readers.
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