My Brigadista YearBook - 2017 | First edition
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Katherine Paterson has written an interesting and compelling story of a time in Cuban history that I, who was a teenager in 1961, was not aware of. When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, he determined a literate population was necessary for a successful socialist society. In 1961 he called for the formation of a volunteer army of teachers who would go into the countryside and teach those there how to read and write. Those teachers could be anyone that could read and write well. Thirteen year old Lora volunteered to spend a year doing this. Her parents, very much against the idea, reluctantly agreed to allowed her to go. They told her she was going to live among the "savages", with no electricity, running water or other niceties of life in Havana. So she ventured into the mountains after 3 weeks of training. She discovered the "campesinos" welcomed her into their house. But life was hard and dangerous. There were still rebels in the area that threatened the "brigadistas" and their families. But her charges wanted to learn to read and write. This fictional account of that time was excellently portrayed by Paterson. Her visits to Cuba and friendship with 2 women who were brigadistas gave this story a solid basis in fact. At the end is a timeline history of Cuba and a brief description of the program that turned Cuba into an "illiteracy-free" country.
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