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Oct 28, 2003

Library on wheels heads to Toledo

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When you work in this business it never hurts to be a big fan of television. But if truth be told, while TV is a sweet piece of eye candy, a really nutritious meal for the mind can only be found in the world of books. This afternoon Patrick Jones got a bellyful as he visited Belize’s newest library.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

When missionaries Ron and Linda Braaten came to Belize five years ago, it was with more than adventure in their eyes. The couple began working with communities in southern Belize, but it wasn’t until after Hurricane Iris that this library project began to take shape.

Linda Braaten, Missionary Librarian

“As I’ve been living in Belize and going to the different villages and I realize that a lot of the children were not exposed at all to reading, to having books, story books, so I started carrying around in suitcases, boxes of books that I had donated from people in the states. And some people from the church in Wisconsin had come down to help me and I was telling them that my vision was to one day be able to bring these books to a lot of the different villages and have a library for the kids.”

That dream became a reality earlier this year when a friend of the family donated this virtually new thirty-two foot trailer, which the Braatens converted into a library on wheels.

Linda Braaten

“I was hoping to get another suit case so I can carry a few more books and this was an amazing thing. It had been my dream since fifth grade to have a library. I remember being in the library at my school and thinking what a wonderful thing it was. And so this is a dream come through beyond anything I could have imagined.”

The library comes equipped with over two thousand books, teaching aids, games and reference material to suit the needs of children from pres-school right up to high school.

Linda Braaten

“It will be situated in Bladen Village and then we will go down and spend a couple of days and we’ll take it to the different villages around that area. But also one of the big things we’re going to do is go to primary schools first of all and we will work with the principal and teachers at the primary schools. So at first it will be as often as we can be down there. We’ll try to have a routine schedule that it will go from village to village, so they’ll know when to expect us.”

Although the mobile library and its contents are a donation from the Oasis Ministry in Wisconsin, Braaten emphasizes that this is not a church library.

Linda Braaten

“This library is totally focused towards the children of Belize and to help them in their education. Actually this library is more focused towards schools and teachers and helping out in that way. So although the Lord provided it, it’s not just for the church.”

Thousands of children in South Stann Creek are expected to benefit from this facility, which is fully equipped with its own generator, air conditioning, and audiovisual material. And even though it will mean that she will have to spend a lot of time on the road until a Belizean is trained to take over its management, Linda Braaten says small sacrifices are sometimes a necessary good.

Linda Braaten

“What’s in it for us is the absolute joy of seeing these children have this totally new experience of discovering books, discovering a world that is much bigger than they had thought or that they had experienced. It’s just the really wonderful feeling of knowing that you can do something to enrich someone else’s life.”

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The mobile library will be inaugurated on Thursday in Bladen Village.



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