What sounds like an idyllic, colorful village and can sometimes be mistaken for Takatuka is actually a suburb of Managua, the Nicaraguan capital. Exactly how many people live in Tipitapa is unclear, estimates vary between 80,000 and 120,000, more than 60 percent of whom are children and adolescents.
Tipitapa is known for its prison, which is why many Nicaraguans warn against driving to this city. In fact, the crime rate in Tipitapa is higher than in most other cities in the country; there are many more attractive tourist cities whose streets are better guarded and secured. Tipitapa is by no means more dangerous than the capital or other suburbs if you follow certain precautions and avoid dangerous neighborhoods.
Apart from a volcanic thermal bath with sulfur sauna by the river, the city does not have much to offer for tourists. The cultural offer for children and young people on site is also poor, too expensive or only possible through an uncomfortable and unsafe bus trip to the capital. That is why the library “La Casita del Árbol” was founded here in 2006. On the one hand, it should offer Tipitapa's residents the opportunity to continue their cultural education free of charge, but it also represents an important meeting point for children and young people: a place to play, do handicrafts, and practice and learning.
Surroundings of Tipitapa
The library on wheels takes turns every week to four different villages in the district of Tipitapa and stops there from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. At each stop, a fixed group of 20-25 children with an average age of 11 years use our offer. In each location, the project has a contact person, usually a teacher or the mother of one of the children being looked after, who offers important support in organizing a location and establishing contact with children and their families. After consultation with the legal guardians, the children can borrow books and games for home.
Cristo Rey is a relatively young district on the southeastern outskirts of Tipitapa and with San Juan de la Plywood the village with which it has had the longest contact. In order to get to the settlement, Tipitapa's landfill must first
be passed. There are currently around 2500 families living here, but the number is steadily increasing - around 30 families are added every month. There is currently only one primary school
in the settlement that can only accommodate a small number of children. The secondary school is located in Tipitapa. Few children can afford the bus costs for participation. The book bus sets up its tables in the front yard of Yadira, a primary school teacher, and there are an average of 20 children here. However, many of them are still under six years old, cannot read yet and require a lot of attention and individual care.
San Juan de la Plywood
To get to San Juan de la Plywood, the book bus drives a further ten minutes past Cristo Rey along the Río Tipitapa. One of the families whose children visit the project is stopped in the front yard. In the mornings to afternoons, there are around 20 children of an average of 11 years of age, some bring their younger siblings with whom they take care of the day. Three children, with problems reading or in other school subjects such as mathematics, receive individual tutoring from the book bus staff.
Zambrano is a small community in the south of Tipitapa, you can reach it in just 10-15 minutes by car. The contact came about through a primary school teacher who, out of sympathy with the project, made her garden available for the book bus. The around 25 children come mainly after lunch in the village school and are between 5 and 16 years old. General cooperation and the lending of books and games at home work particularly well with the elderly; the activities offered, such as reading together, making bracelets, painting the bookshelf or playing football, are of great interest. After it was no longer possible to use the teacher's garden, we were given permission to move to the community premises.
San Benito is the largest, but also the most distant village: you drive north on the Panamericana for about half an hour. The book bus was allowed to use the space in the shade of some trees in front of the house of a former teacher. Around 20 children usually come around lunchtime. On some days, the working hours of the bus overlap with those of a small afternoon school of the Evangelical Church, but with whose organizers cooperation would be possible in the future.