A Stellar Gift to Education in Uganda

by Paul Gilster on August 21, 2009

Do you have any astronomy books you could spare? Larry Klaes has passed along word from Mimi Burbank, a friend from the History of Astonomy e-mail list who lives and works in Uganda. Living in Kasese, Mimi has been involved in educational activities for people living in a rural area with few resources. She’s trying to gather books on astronomy from childrens’ books up to adult levels. Mimi writes as follows:

The people here are very poor and there are no resources for education, and so I have been asking my friends from all around the world to send books and other things. I have received almost a hundred books for children of all ages, and the little NGO that I work with (BUFO) has achieved extremely high scores on their leaving exams at the end of the school year. They have instituted a Saturday reading hour, during which the older children who can read, read stories out of the books to the younger children who can not yet read, and they all love it. This is the beginning of a ‘reading culture’.

mimi_burbank

As part of that reading culture, Mimi has been teaching the children about the formation of the universe and our relationship to the cosmos around us. She notes that science is under-taught in this part of the world because of the lack of material and books, but is sharing what she has with the local schools. If you can help with any book donations, you can send them to Mimi at:

Mimi Burbank
c/o South Rwenzori Diocese
PO Box 142
Kasese, Uganda
East Africa

And she adds: “You don’t need to ship a huge shipment (very expensive) – for small packages the cost is minimal, and each and every gift is so very much appreciated. Thank goodness, books have a flat rate and a cheaper rate!”

Mimi’s own Web page is here, with links to the local groups she works with. Any donations would be received with profound gratitude.

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{ 5 comments }

James M. Essig August 21, 2009 at 17:41

Hi Paul;

I will look and see if I have any astronomy books to spare. This is a very kind work that Mimi Burbank is doing.

Getting kids hooked on astronomy, cosmology, and even space travel is spiritually very beneficial and can inspire these children to look beyond any present difficulties with a wonderment and fascination with all of creation which we call the cosmos.

One of the first few astronomy books that turned me on to astronomy was a field guide type of book that was entitled something like “A Field Guide To The Stars And Planets”. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe I got the book as a Christmas present and could not keep my eyes off of the colorful pictures and diagrams, a fact that was more of a testimant to an early artistic fascination with color and shapes than it was to grade school academic ability since my grade school report cards from typical public schools where boringly average.

Perhaps I was too distracted by fantasies regarding the future of manned space flight to focus on my school work as the Apollo Program was going full tilt when I recieved the gift. My fascination with manned space flight has never left and was no doubt stoked in part by that young childhood holiday gift I received.

ljk March 15, 2010 at 0:50

On a related note, the Astro Book Drive:

http://astrodrive.lakdiva.net/

ljk November 30, 2010 at 7:54

I just received this e-mail from Mimi’s son, which I reproduce below:

From: iwant2baclone@juno.com
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2010 17:55:09 +0000
Subject: Dear Friends….

It is with a heavy heart that I let you, all you wonderful people, know that my mother, Mimi passed away last night. The details are a bit sketchy however, it appears that she either fell down in the middle of the night or she was having respiratory problems and fell to the floor. She loved you very very much, and often commented that she could never have made it to Uganda without you.

The idea of her living out her late-in-life dream was a gift that all of you gave to her in love, affection, encouragement, and many other ways.

She passed away doing what she loved to do, in a place that she called her home. The only regret she had is that she didn’t find that joy until so late in life.

She made me proud, so very proud to be her son, and I am grateful that she is now at rest in heaven. I will let you know if there are more details pending as things move forward.

Much love from me and her family in Kasese, Uganda. We cherish your love and affection, and thank you for the many years of friendship that you gave my mother.

Grace be to you all.

Charles Dean Burbank

“Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a
false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer
remains as a barrier to the relationship.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Paul Gilster November 30, 2010 at 8:49

What sad news. This was one wonderful woman, and I wish I had known her. She will be missed.

ljk December 1, 2010 at 4:33

Thilina Heenatigala had this to report about Mimi – the two were working together regarding the Astro Book Drive, “which works on getting astronomy reading materials to groups in developing countries.”

http://thilinaheenatigala.blogspot.com/2010/11/rip-mimi-burbank-wonderful-person.html

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