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#212413 - 11/25/05 10:37 PM Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
SimonB Offline
Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize



Imagine an elementary school library with empty shelves. Impossible? That's what a Rotary member found on a trip to Belize two years ago.

Shocked by this report, District 6510 Governor and O'Fallon Rotary member Catherine Taylor Yank decided to start a districtwide book drive.

District Chairman David Sharpe of the Carbondale Rotary told the district of his findings in Belize in a district newsletter. Sharpe's club then sent 1,200 books to Belize and divided them between two schools.

"David Sharpe talked about these beautiful libraries in the schools that have (little to) no books," Yank said. "I decided to challenge each Rotarian to collect five books and each club to collect 500. We're calling this project 'Build a Book Bridge to Belize.'"

District 6510, which includes 47 clubs in Southern Illinois, with five local chapters -- Belleville, Fairview Heights, O'Fallon, O'Fallon Sunrise, and Swansea -- has been participating in an ongoing program with Belize since 1977, treating Belezan children with orthopedic problems at Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis. Sharpe was following up with a child who had participated in the program when he made his discovery.

"I visited Guadalupe Primary School in Sandhill, Belize, and found a very small collection of books for the 120 students that attended the school," Sharpe said. "A 6-year-old girl read a book to me on 'Clifford the Big Red Dog.' She only had a problem with the word island, because of the silent 's.'"

Sharpe continued, "It confused her. As we talked about other strange words I thought (to myself), this library can't help her expand her reading skills. Schools in Southern Illinois have thousands of books in the libraries to entertain, challenge and help students learn and grow."

Sharpe said the poor, developing nation struggles to supply its schools with paper and pencils. Because of this, a budget for school library books would be out of the question. That's why District 6510 hooked up with managers of Anglican and Catholic school systems to implement the book bridge project into 20 primary schools in Belize.

Belezan schools function through joint efforts between the government and religious denominations -- government pays the teachers' salaries, students pay small tuition fees and religious organizations take care of the remaining costs to operate the schools.

This project is estimated to help more than 10,000 Belezan schoolchildren. It will provide one to two books per child. In the United States, the national average is 20 books per child. Yank expects to ship 20,000 books by the end of the Rotary year in May.

"Sandhill relies on the generosity of people like us," Sharpe said.

Interested in helping out? The district is collecting new or gently-used, up-to-date, literature and library books appropriate for kindergarten through eighth-grade. Encyclopedias or funds to purchase a set also are needed. Hardback books are preferred, but paperbacks will be accepted. Money for shipping can also be donated. Contact Belleville Rotary Club member Darrell Coons at 234-2358.

#212414 - 11/26/05 05:28 PM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
Kra-Z-K Offline
Simon, are the books needed more on the mainland, do they have enough in the library here? I just donated 2 books to the island library and have quite a bit more. Do they prefer them all to be in English or are they looking for spanish, too? All my books are for ages kindergarden-age 12 but in spanish.

If they are needed more on the mainland's libraries I will gladly take them on the water ferry when I go to Belize City in Jan to bring them there.

#212415 - 11/26/05 05:30 PM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
Kra-Z-K Offline
after re reading your post it looks like they need books in English. Please confirm this, and if so I will bring my books to the island's library as I know they need english and spanish.

#212416 - 11/26/05 10:01 PM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
Caicos S. Offline
HI! I was wondering if teaching posters would be of any use. I am a teacher and have a good amount of posters (phonics,number charts, and things of that nature). They have been used but are in very good condition.

#212417 - 11/26/05 10:41 PM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
SimonB Offline
Excellent idea!

I wish there was a clearing house for all of the schools and non-profits in Belize that are looking for donations. I'd be willing to donate web space and a simple web design if someone wanted to do the leg work. Just a listing for each organization, their background, their contacts and their wish lists. It might go a long way to making sure that those in need are not missed out. San Pedro organizations do have their needs but thankfully they also have a lot of support. I'm sure there are plenty of communities (Indian Church for one) who could use the help.

If we do go anywhere with this I would prefer that it be a non-monetary site and be for goods only wish lists.

Any volunteers?

#212418 - 11/26/05 11:47 PM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
Djean Offline

I like your idea.

I live in Dangriga and have had some kind donors send me stuff to give to school.

What I have done is taken pictures as send back of the kids and donation.

I am happy to volunteer to be the contact person in Dangriga.

I work with the town council.

Let me know is you need more info.

#212419 - 11/27/05 01:38 AM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
SimonB Offline
Here's a start: http://donatebelize.lagniappe-belize.com/

I'm working up what the criteria will be to listed but it in general will require a letter of support from the local town council or village council and possibly the local opposing party. A contact name must be provided along with phone, e-mail and ground address.

A brief description of the cause and a wish list of items. No cash solicitations will be allowed through the site.

Please spread the word throughout the country so I can get this up and running by Christmas and push it up on the search engines.

There is zero charge to any organization that meets the listing criteria.


#212420 - 11/27/05 08:26 AM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
Caicos S. Offline
Great! Please keep me informed. I really think you have a great thing started! I know many teachers have things they no longer use. Also, I do not know if Ebay ships to Belize but they often have books at excellent rates. Perhaps people coming to visit could buy books and bring them with.

#212421 - 11/29/05 05:35 AM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
Kra-Z-K Offline
amazon will not ship to BZ and most shippers on ebay will not ship to us here in BZ frown

#212422 - 11/29/05 01:27 PM Re: Rotary collects books to fill school libraries in Belize
SimonB Offline
Unless it's something new Amazon does ship to Belize. I purchased several books from them in the past (Kathy got a guitar book from them about a 9 months ago). They will not ship CD's or electronics to Belize.

It's true though about EBay, it's almost impossible to find a seller that will ship to Belize.

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