“It was more like going to a different world than a different country,” said Rochester resident Sue Kantner of a recent trip to Dipilto, Nicaragua.
With a population nearing 6,000, the rural municipality is comparable in size to Rochester, Marion or Mattapoisett, but there the similarities end, especially when it comes to education.
Now, Sue Kantner and her daughter Angie, a second year Peace Corps volunteer, want to help change that by building up Dipilto’s library and getting their hometown involved.
Angie Kantner, a graduate of Old Rochester Regional High School, had the Peace Corps in her sights long before graduating from college.
“I have always been drawn toward community service. I want to learn from the peoples I meet, live among them, and do whatever I can to help people where I am,” she said.
Double majoring in Spanish and sociology at UMass Amherst, Angie marked South America as a preference on her Peace Corps application “ended up in the coffee fields of northern Nicaragua.”
Focusing on community health, Angie works to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. She also began volunteering at the local schools.
“I remember being challenged to think, question, analyze,” said Angie of her Rochester upbringing. In Dipilto, “Students copy the information that the teacher copies from a book onto the board, memorize and regurgitate it for a test.”
With almost 2,700 people under the age of 19, Angie wants to turn the one-room library into a haven where kids can dream big.
With a meager collection of nine books, she’s got her work cut out for her.
“While every high-schooler is required to study English, the one Spanish-English dictionary in the library is missing entire sections,” wrote Angie in a letter to family and friends. “I am writing to you because, well, we can fix that.”
“Peace Corps is not about giving out piles of cash to poor countries, it is about sustainability,” she wrote, but money for new books and supplies is hard to come by.
With her daughter thousands of miles away, Sue is leading the charge to raise money for Dipilto’s “humble” library.
“Money for one book is not too small. Five dollars could probably buy a couple of books over there,” said Sue. “Anything would be appreciated.”
As this is a grassroots effort, Sue said, “There isn’t something set up that shows that it’s not-for-profit, so we’re trying to just be local – getting donations from people who know Angie’s character and know the money will go to the books and the people in the area where they need it.”
Angie would like to equip the library with 200 books, tables, chairs, school and art supplies and materials for community gatherings.
In a place where dropouts and teen pregnancies continue unabated, Angie said, “My hope is that the library will be a place to learn new things and to think and dream about one’s future.”
For more information or to make a donation, contact Sue Kantner at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-763-4058 or Angie Kantner at email@example.com.