To a stranger in rural villages of Colombia, seeing a man riding a burro or a donkey with almost 120 books as a luggage would look comical. But for the children in these poverty-ridden towns, the man and his burro is the bringer of hope.
The man is Luis Soriano. He is a primary teacher who spends his free time operating what he calls a Biblioburro. The biblioburro is his mobile library on donkeys. He goes around the rural areas in Magdalena, Colombia to offer children free reading and education.
Soriano started his biblioburro when he realized that some of his students were falling behind. These students were mostly from rural villages where they lack access to books. These students also mostly have illiterate parents. To help these students, Soriano decided to bring the books to the children himself.
Traveling four hours each way, Soriano leaves his wife and three children at dusk every Wednesday and at dawn every Saturday. Riding his burro named Alfa carries as many books as he can. A second burro, Beto, follows them while carrying additional books and a sitting blanket. The burros and the teacher usually visit 15 villages on a rotating basis.
Aside from his biblioburro, Soriano and his wife also created the largest free library in Magdalena next to their house. As of 2010, the library housed almost 4,200 books which are mostly donated from different cities and countries.
For his effort, Luis Soriano and his biblioburro was chosen as one of CNN’s 2010 Heroes of the Year.