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About Us

Our mission is to provide access to books for children and youth living in refugee camps in Reynosa on the US-Mexico border and empower caregivers through education about the benefits of shared reading as a way to support both attachment and literacy development.

Nearly half of those living in Reynosa refugee camps are under the age of 15, and a quarter are under the age of 5. The majority of these children have had limited educational opportunities and may remain displaced throughout their educational years. We found there is limited to no access to books for children in a 2022 field assessment.

Our Story

"Rise up and Read" started as a conversation between two friends. While working with Global Response Management in a Matamoros clinic, pediatrician Dr Susanna Block was struck by the fact that families faced with extreme stress from safety, food and shelter insecurity were also very concerned about their childrens education and language development.

Dr Block called her friend, Dr Lesley Sylvan, a Speech and Language Pathologist, to ask about bilingual resources. Out of that call, and many following conversations "Rise up and Read" was created.

Our Approach

The Rise Up And Read team includes a pediatrician, early learning experts and engineers focused on building infrastructure for refugee camps. Rise Up And Read evolved from conversations with migrant families in refugee camps. Despite multiple unimaginable hardships, parents were concerned about their childrens education and language development.

In response to these conversations we conducted an initial field assessment from migrant families to better understand their access to books, interest in early literacy and what the families felt would work best (physical books vs web access vs library).

Using this information and our collective expertise we created an early literacy project tailored for this unique migrating population.

In the past 6 months we have done the following:

  • Pediatric field assessment to gauge interest, access and best practices about early literacy in Matamoros, Mexico.

  • Distributed 600 age appropriate bilingual early learning books with associated conversation starter "thought questions" as a way to support shared reading.

  • Developed a patient facing website with access to early learning books read aloud in Spanish and English.

  • Partnered with Solidarity Engineering, a humanitarian engineering NGO with 2 years of experience working in the refugee camps in Reynosa.

  • Started building the safe reading space library and playground in a Reynosa refugee shelter.

Support early literacy and attachment for children in refugee camps along the US/Mexico Border - Donate Here

Partnered for Change with...

Solidarity Engineering

Solidarity Engineering is a humanitarian engineering organization currently based at the US-Mexico border. Our mission is to provide community-driven, public health-based engineering for people in crisis.

Pediatrician Opens Library for Refugee Children in Mexico


Dr. Susanna Block has a heart for children and a drive to give back. The pediatric hospitalist works in Seattle and volunteers 2,000 miles away, helping children at a refugee camp in Reynosa, Mexico, near McAllen, Texas. Read more >>>

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