In memorium…

Today we remember Don Pavel Antonio Romero Pérez, another victim of the gang violence that continues to ravage El Salvador. For over 15 years, Pavel was a loyal friend to Books for a Better World, masterfully navigating his 4-wheel drive truck on mostly unpaved rural roads to deliver donated books and volunteers to some of the most underserved schools surrounding Ahuachapán, El Salvador. 

Pavel’s love for his country and deep sense of integrity impacted the lives of countless children through literacy, supporting their teachers by building classroom and school libraries. Before the involvement of volunteers from Books for a Better World, logistically supported by Pavel, many of the classrooms or even entire schools may have had only a few books.


Pavel and his truck pictured with volunteers from Books from a Better World at a primary school in the rural outskirts of of Ahuachapán, the westernmost city in the country, situated near the Guatemalan border. As an agricultural region, it primarily produces coffee and is a popular stop along El Salvador’s colorful Ruta de las Flores.

We remember jostling around with boxes of books in the open back of Pavel’s truck as we joined Books For a Better World for a day in July 2013, delivering books to rural schools. Though we wouldn’t give this transport a second thought today, back in July, 2013, it felt reckless to willingly trade comfort for exposure. I vividly remember exchanging unsure parenting glances with Jorge as Abigail intrepidly climbed into the back of the Pavel’s open truck with volunteers Kira, Steve, Wendy and Matt.


 Was this a good parenting call? Dylan’s tousled hair and thrilled face as he held on for dear life in the back of Pavel’s truck would say so. E

ventually blowing rain drenched us as we huddled under the truck’s rain tarp.To our family, Pavel is remembered for being more than a driver. With Pavel at the wheel, our children were transported to a world rarely seen by tourists, setting our family’s trajectory for authentic travel to less visited destinations. Though these experiences feel harsh and unfamiliar at the time, we’ve found the rewards of struggle and discomfort lingers the longest in our hearts and minds, changing us.


Abigail reads a donated book with a Salvadorian student with the help of Kira, current President of Books for a Better World,

Pavel’s willingness to get involved with Books for a Better World demonstrated to our children that there’s a road paved with hope, whose ruts and slippery inclines are best navigated through partnerships with engaged community members like Pavel. He lived to make his community better. The difficult road he chose meant great sacrifice, eventually taking his life as the victim of targeted gang violence, attributed to his other volunteer work with the community. His impact will live on in Ahuachapán’s children, our family and through the continued work of the dedicated volunteers for Books for a Better World.


Spanish language books are carefully selected by Books for a Better World to be as culturally relevant, sensitive and age-appropriate as possible. As Dylan prepares the next book, Wendy shares an oversized book with students, whose format allows an entire classroom of students to share a book.

If you’d like to find out more about Books for a Better World, please visit or find them on Facebook @BooksforaBetterWorld

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