A Visit to Hekab Be

by Lydia Linton Pontius (March 2012)

Hekab Be hired a new Director, Mariana Galindo, in February and their previous librarian, Carlos, has moved on. He was still on staff in November, when I visited. I was delighted to get to visit Hekab Be library one last time before Carlos moved on. I know Carlos will be missed at Hekab Be but his hard work and dedication will live on in the library's programs and in the children he helped over the years. Carlos shared many stories with us but one of my favorites was about a young girl who started coming to the library. He noticed this pretty little girl, Liset, was always by herself, she never talked, and had no friends. Carlos approached her and spoke to her in Spanish and she just looked at him as if she couldn't hear him. He tried again, this time in Mayan, and she smiled and answered his questions. Liset was in the 4th grade and, because she was so well behaved, she slipped through the cracks and was barely able to read or write. Carlos started tutoring her and she is now working on the same level as her classmates and has lots of friends! You can see her smiling face in the accompanying video.

Another thing that Carlos was extremely proud of was the after-school program he helped run at Hekab Be, which has been in place for over 10 years. Over the years the number of children who have come through the library has grown. Now, on any given day during the school year, about 30 children come for tutoring and homework assistance, not to mention other programs and workshops they offer, such as arts & crafts, English, and Mayan lessons. It is safe and it is free Hekab Be is the only place in Akumal that provides a jungle gym and safe outdoor play area for the kids. The older children who were helped at Hekab Be now volunteer to work with the younger ones and to be their mentors. Each child’s needs are evaluated and they are given instruction in academic areas where they most need it, be it reading, writing or math. As Carlos pointed out, "Kids learn here! Sometimes better than in a classroom setting."

Hekab Be benefits both sides of the highway and all who live and come to Akumal. Tourists, local businesses and residents help support the library with supplies and volunteers. In return, these people get to learn more about the local people, culture, traditions and can even benefit from a Spanish or Mayan lesson. It is important that the Mayan language and history is passed on so that local people don't lose their own language and culture in their own land.

As Hekab Be helps more students advance in their learning, they have seen an increase in the number of kids able to go on to middle school. Since many of their parents just have an elementary school education, there is a great need to help them with their studies so they can successfully continue their education. When Hekab Be first began in 1995, few students from Akumal were able to go to middle school; now almost 70% are going on to secondaria. The donations that Hekab Be receives go directly to support the library's educational programs for children, and the library also shares school supplies and books with local schools and other libraries in the region. Hekab Be is supported solely by donations to keep its programs running. Please consider making a contribution to help this important place continue its good work!

If you are in Akumal, please be sure to stop by and visit Hekab Be; you will be glad you did!  Here is their wish list.

Hekab Be Liset
Akumal Villas

Cabanas Tulum