Getting some perspective on Literacy in Belle Vue
HOW FAR WOULD ONTARIO STUDENTS GO FOR LITERACY? TRY 8,737 KM.
VIEUX FORT, St. Lucia– Friday, September 12, 2016.
By Richard Clewes
Even if you’ve been to St. Lucia, you’ve likely never seen Belle Vue. It’s a small community, a town surrounded by a patchwork of garden plots, perched on a ridge between Canelles and Vieux Fort rivers– a mere 40 minute drive from the airport. If you can find it. My map showed a shortcut leading from Vieux Fort to Joyeux to Hope to Belle Vue.
The map lied.
Yesterday, following some customs challenges, our delivery man Andrew (“Sonny”) Providence successfully trucked 8 skids of boxed books from the opposite end of the island. Somehow, he rolled his blue flatbed right to the front gate of Belle Vue Combined School. Today, I hope to see that gate by 10 AM, a mere 20 minutes away.
The almost arbitrary nature of this road has just about defeated me when suddenly the school appears. I’m just in time for the “hand-over” ceremony.
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
How Reading Changed My Life
by Anna Quindlen
It’s a big deal with songs, prayers, and speeches – and here’s why. To get 9 tons of books into St. Lucia means hundreds of students in Ontario held weeks of book drives. They sorted and packed 20,000 books. A truck carried their haul to Halifax where it went by container ship down the Florida coast. Two weeks at sea. Add a week to avoid Hurricane Hermine and another for customs. It took over a month just to get here.
There’s 1 bookstore in St. Lucia to serve 33,000 students and almost none of the 73 primary schools have a library. This is why we’re here.
Now that the ceremony is over, the prospect of getting several thousand storybooks into their own schools has excited the schoolyard of children. Pairs of kids are rushing their school’s alotment to waiting cars.
It’s a beautiful sight.
The books in this shipment were donated by schools in Guelph (Guelph Central PS; Paisley Road PS; Westminster PS); Peel Region (Palgrave PS); Breslau (St. John’s Kilmarnock); Durham Region (Quaker Village PS; Claremont PS). EduCan Media Inc. and Friends of the Guelph Library also made contributions. Thanks to the teacher librarians, principals and, of course, the students who made it all possible.