Miss Berties Library

Miss Berties Library

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The Background
The village of Hopkins has a school which the many children of the village attend, but clearly resources are limited. In particular, the village was lacking a library for both the community and the school prior to 2007. In that year a Peace Corps volunteer “Miss Bertie” repurposed an old nursery building close to the school into a community library, and with donated books (mostly from friends) started and ran a library for the community. You can learn more about her efforts and vision by reading her Blog http://www.blogger.com/profile/17172662894415397338.  Sadly, Bertie Lee Murphy died about a year later. The library, renamed in her honour, has reopened and is currently run by Diane Bootland who is also with the Peace Corps.

On the wall is a testimonial from the children to Miss Bertie’s efforts as follows:
  • She helped us learn to read.
  • She would read us stories, and sometimes we would pass the book around the circle and take turns reading.
  • She brought books from the library into our class rooms.
  • Miss Bertie was always smiling.
  • She would ride her red bike around Hopkins and wherever she went she would wave and smile at us.
  • She had a funny thing she did when we were loud and not paying attention...She would quietly say “clap your hands if you can hear me”…. And some of us would start to clap our hands. She would then say again and again “clap your hands if you can hear me” and pretty soon we were all clapping and nobody was talking.
The library (as pictured below) is popular with the children even though the resources are limited.

The Need

The Peace Corp continues to support the library and Ms. Dianne Bootland runs the library everyday through the week after school is out. She has reading days, puzzle days and colouring days but:
  • The books are mostly cast-offs from Middle America and have no relevance or engagement for the people in the community...
  • Only a few puzzles are available...
  • Colouring books and colouring materials are in very limited supply...
So what is needed is very evident in a word; everything.

The materials however are only part of the problem; shipping anything to this location is very expensive. To limit these costs I will be sharing shipping arrangements that already exist for Hamanasi. They deal with a bulk shipping  firm (Hydes Shipping) in Florida which provides the ability to transport purchased materials from the United States to Hopkins in a relatively cost efficient manner.

What Can You Do?

Nothing elevates the human condition as much as education and reading is a critical keystone for that. To help with education for the children of Belize and supporting reading in the community you can:

  1. Bring new or used books with you to Hamanasi as a donation for the library or
  2. Make a direct cash donation during your visit to the resort which will be used to purchase books and related educational materials for Miss Bertie’s Library

In either case the books or donation dollars (cash or cheque) can be provided to Jan Neel (in the case of a cheque it should be made out to Hamanasi with identification that it is for the library). In terms of donated books just about anything is welcome whether for adults or children. Monetary donations will be used to make purchases based on input from Diane and the community on what is popular and of interest to the children and adults that use it. Please note since this effort has no tax charitable standing you will receive no tax receipt for your donation. Every dollar will however put books in the hands of the village with an emphasis on children’s resources. If you wish you can follow this site and update yourself on news about the library and what is being achieved via your gift.

If you have specific questions about this project you can email miss_berties_library@rogers.com to receive more information.


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