Today, I’m writing to you as a reader and a lover of books. Some of my fondest early memories involve Saturday morning visits to our neighborhood library in North Carolina. My dad and I would browse our favorite sections and leave with stacks of books. When we reached home, he would recline in his chair and I would curl up in a beanbag nearby and we would lose ourselves in other worlds for the rest of the weekend. Reading never felt like a luxury; it felt like my right as a human being. Whenever I had questions about anything my dad would point toward the shelf of Encyclopedias and command me to, “Look it up!” This became and remains my mantra – though the tools I use to access information are very different now. And in spite of the fact that I read less books and tend toward short articles, I always have access to the information that I desire through libraries, bookstores, and online.
In Belize, things are different. Especially in the south where life if much slower and access to material goods is limited. Schools in the southernmost Toledo District are under-resourced and families struggle to pay required school fees and provide basic school supplies and uniforms for their children. In Belize, books are a luxury – even in schools. Classrooms are equipped with a chalkboard, some desks and tables and chairs, usually mismatched and often broken. Teachers take on the responsibility of providing room decorations, learning aids, classroom materials of all sorts and even books. They do this through fundraisers in their school’s community in which they write letters to organizations in the area and sell items like snacks. They also use their own wages to ensure that their students have a chance to learn.
Over the years, BFREE has worked with communities that buffer our reserve and the Bladen Nature Reserve. We visit classrooms and bring students to the field station on day trips. We have also donated supplies and materials. In 2013, BFREE and the Marlin kids helped Golden Stream Government School establish their library with a large donation of books and with materials for building bookshelves. This school library has since expanded and the school plans to open the library to the community on the weekends allowing more access to the precious resources.
In late 2015, I was approached by an eager US high school student who was interested in a service project that would benefit Belize. Through a series of books drives and with the help of Terry Biehl and Laura Calton, that student, Brianna Biehl, collected well over 600 books as well as some resource materials and classroom supplies.
We invite you to participate in our last push for books and supplies prior to making the shipment at the end of the month. Please read below for the list of current items requested.
Thank you for considering our request and for your continued support!
If you are interested in donating new or gently used books or resource materials, please mail or deliver them to:
US for BFREE
2602 NW 6th Street, Suite D
Gainesville, FL 32609
Below is our Wish List:
Books for pre-K through 8th grade on the following subjects:
•Health and Wellness
•Resource and Activity Guides
•Unlined paper/ copier paper
For more ideas, visit our Amazon Wish List here.
Also, here is a great resource for books about Belize. Cubola Publications www.cubola.com