Meet José Alberto Gutiérrez, a trash collector who has saved over 20,000 books that have been thrown out in wealthy neighborhoods to build his own library for less fortunate kids.
Gutiérrez is known as the “Lord of the Books” and has been collecting titles for over two decades.
“The first book I found was ‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy, and that little book ignited the flame and snowballed into something that has never stopped rolling,” he said in an interview with AJ+. He picks up roughly 50 to 60 books from the trash every day.
As he began to accumulate books, he felt that it would only be right to turn his home into a library for the kids who need it most.
“My family and I decided to make the most of the downstairs space and open a library for children. It became a community library and we named it ‘The Strength of Words,'” he said. He opens up his makeshift library to the public every weekend.
According to AP, there are only 19 public libraries in Bogotá — a city that boasts a population of approximately 8 million people. These libraries are located far away from low-income areas, making it hard for some children to access books.
The access he has given to the underprivileged children in Bogotá is changing their lives.
One of the kids talked to AJ+ and described how happy she was that there was a space where she could immerse herself in books. She said, “In my house there are hardly any books. I could see the books [in the library] and learn new things.”
Although Gutiérrez only has a second-grade education, his love for literature comes from his mother.
He explained to AP how he was too poor to continue his schooling, but his mom would read him stories every night. “To me, books are the greatest invention and the best thing that can happen to a human being,” he said.
His selflessness doesn’t remain within the quarters of his home-turned-library, either. Now he’s sending books to hundreds of towns across Colombia.
Gutiérrez said it best: “I think we are simply a bridge between people who have books and those who don’t have anything.”
Watch his inspiring story here:
News Source: Vivala