News and Media

Getting some perspective on Literacy in Belle Vue


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.

A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.

Author (1810-1889)

Reading brings us unknown friends.

Novelist (1799-1850)
Find 52: The Road to Reading in Grenada
In February 2015, Richard ran right around Grenada, a distance of 52 miles. 52 "Mile Captains" raised $40,000.

If we want to make this world a better place, then we have to become better ourselves. There is no easy route.


All I know is what I have words for.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Out of this world
After reading "Postcards from Outer Space' a student in Montserrat is inspired to be the next Chris Hadfield.

Too many people grow up. That's the trouble with the world.


Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

Philosopher, Psychologist (1842-1910)

If you believe what you can, quite literally, believe anything.

Professor, Philosopher (1912-1991)

Start some kind words on its travels. There is no telling where the good it may do will stop.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell
Humanitarian, Medical Missionary (1865-1940)

Life is too deep for words so don't try to describe it, just live it.

C. S. Lewis
Author, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
And the Winner in Montserrat is....
Marlaina White (Left) announces the Second Annual Rainforest of Reading Award to Illustrator Jan Dolby (Middle) and Author Joyce Grant for "Gabby."

At the moment that we persuade a child, any child to cross...that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever.

It's a long story
Books packed by kids in Ontario for their peers in the Caribbean travel 1,800 kilometres by road then another 5,275 kilometres by container ship.

Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.

Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)

It is by acts and not ideals that people live.

Author (1844-1924)

If you get the right [words] in the right order, you might nudge the world a little.

Sir Tom Stoppard

The future is always beginning now. Each moment is a place you've never been.

Poet (1934-2014)
Challenging literacy development
Although English is the official language of St. Lucia, Krewyol is spoken as much or more outside the classroom.

I read. I travel. I become.

St. Lucian author & 1992 Nobel Laureate