News for October 2010

Next planned meeting: October 16th we will have a meeting of all those going on or interested in going on the next mission. It will be held at Owens Community College, College Hall, Conference Room 99 from 10 A.M. to 12 Noon. If you cannot attend, but would like to, please contact me.
Mel Honig, Project Coordinator
419 843 4459
Email gailmel75@yahoo.com

UPDATES FROM BELIZE

My trip to Belize (September 15th to the 22nd) was successful in that all the objectives were met:

  • Confirming we had 4 community sites to convert into Resources Centers when we send down a mission team this December 10th-24th.
  • Visiting our first three sites to check on their progress
  • Coordinating the shipping of the materials and supplies to the new sites, and
  • re-establishing ties with old contacts while making new ones.

The following are descriptions of the four new sites. While each of sites shares many similarities such as rapid growth, English spoken as a second language, and women who do not work outside the home, each site is truly unique with their own problems and issues to resolve.

The Four New Sites

Duck Run 1

The community of Duck Run 1 received their supply of running water last year, and electricity 3 years ago. It is comprised of some 100+ families, mostly 1st and 2nd generation Belizeans of Guatemalan decent.

Village Chairman, Enrique Arroyo, says that the community will start work on the conversion of the building chosen for the Resource Center immediately, and it will be ready for us when we arrive in early December.


The current Duck Run 1 school luncheon building will be converted to a Resource Center. The community realizes that this building is too small and will be either adding onto it, or building another community center to house the Resource Center.

Billy White

Billy White is not only close to Duck Run 1 geographically, but also demographically. It already has a very large community building. And very little work needs to be done to get the center ready for the conversion to a Resource Center.


Meeting with the Billy White Resource Center committee in March 2010.

Duck Run 3

Unlike Duck Run 1 and Billy White, Duck Run 3 has been settled from immigrants with an El Salvadoran heritage. Being close to Spanish Lookout the community has had electricity and running water for many years. Still many of the homes do not benefit from these ‘conveniences’……. something we call necessities. They already have a community center appropriate for conversion to a Resource Center.


The holiday weekend and last minute efforts to have a community meeting meant light attendance, but there was no doubt that the community wanted to have a resource center.

Bullet Tree Falls

Bullet Tree Falls is perhaps the most ethnically diverse, and also one of the largest communities in the Cayo District. There are already two Community Center buildings in the community, one designated as a library. We will be putting the computers in the library, and the learning center in the Community building. They already have an outstanding playground.


Above left is the Community Center. The upper right is the library/computer center and immediately above, the center playground.

Status of our first three sites

The concern when the mission team left Belize this past March was the sustainability of the centers and the possibility of theft. It is now almost seven months later and all three centers are still operating and theft has not been a problem. They are still conducting classes for mothers and their children in the mornings and computer classes after school and at night.

Salvapan

The Salvapan Resource Center is located on University of Belize (UB) property and is an integral part of the University and its community service initiative. When I was there the center was still closed due to summer break at the University. With the reopening of the Center will continue to have mother child enrichment classes in the morning and computer classes during the day and evenings. UB students will also continue to work in the Center as part of their educational requirement. All of the equipment and materials are still being used and in good repair.

Armenia

The Armenia Resource Center is now being guided by Peace Corps volunteer Elsa George, the previous Peace Corps volunteer, Zan, has returned home and is now a graduate student at Harvard University.

Above left is the computer center. Above are children playing in the center. To the right is Elsa, the Peace Corps Volunteer, in main room of the Armenia Resource Center.

Saint Margarets

St Margarets village does not have a playground for the preschool. This is one thing that the St Margarets Resource Center Committee asked that I help them acquire, as well as more tables and chairs and toys…. which are very popular with the children.

Resource Center
Computer Stations

Coordinating the Next Shipment

Upon arriving in Belize I met with Eric Maas, the Belmopan Rotary contact, who is coordinating the shipping and storage of materials and supplies we are sending to Belize. Eric and I meet with Deborah Sewell a Belmopan Rotarian and the Director of the Belize Natural Energy Trust (BNE Trust) to discuss not only the shipping but also storage of the sent materials and supplies until everything can be distributed to the communities.

Deborah stated that our program ‘is consistent with the type of effort they want to support; and the BNE Trust will continue to finance shipments as long as we are partnering with Tim Tam (The Word at Work), and as long as they are able’.

Establishing New Contacts

The presence of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia has been helpful in insuring the sustainability of the program there, so I was especially interested in meeting with Valentino Shal and Austin Arzu, the two Program Directors at the Peace Corps. Both directors are Belizean nationals and were extremely valuable in giving me insight into how to promote the RCI program to the communities.

They also introduced me to Diana Pook, who is a director at COMPAR (Community and Parent Empowerment Programme), a program within the Belize Department of Human Services. COMPAR, meets with parents and children in one on one situations, as well as conducts parenting training in group settings. In the future we will coordinate with COMPAR and the Peace Corps in the selection of future sites.

October 16th we will have a meeting of all those going on the next mission, or those possibly interested in going. It will be held at Owens Community College, College Hall, Conference Room 99 from 10 A.M. to 12 Noon. If you would like more information about the meeting, or cannot attend but would like to please contact:
Mel Honig, Project Coordinator
419 843 4459
Email gailmel75@yahoo.com