News for Spring 2018

Mission 11 to Stann Creek

RCI’s next mission will be to the Stann Creek District of Belize when we will open 18 to 20 Resource Centers in Preschools and Infant classrooms. The Mission will be co-sponsored by MESA, the international arm of District 6600 and the Rotary Club of Placentia.

Planning, funding and preparing for each mission are ongoing processes which involve Rotarians in the United States and Belize and educators in Belize. MESA will send a mission team to work with local Belizeans in the distribution of product, setting up resource centers and giving tutorials to teachers and administrators. It is estimated that the mission will provide valuable educational opportunities to more than 10,000 students over a 5 year period.

To be part of the team please contact Mel Honig at melhonig.rci@gmail.com. We especially need educators and IT specialists to join… but any Rotarian participant is considered a valuable asset. We do not have exact mission dates, but they will probably be the last week of November through the first week of December. Missioners are responsible for their own expenses which are only about $1000 USD.

About the Stann Creek District of Belize

1Stann Creek is one of six Districts in Belize and is located in the south central part of the country. The population of 33,000 is peopled mostly of Garifuna, Latinos of mixed heritage (mainly Maya and Spanish), Maya, Chinese, East Indians and ex patriots from the United States and numerous other minorities from around the world. The capitol is the Garifuna town of Dangriga. The Garifuna are an ethnically mixture of Nigerian, Arawak and Carib peoples. They settled in Belize in 1832, a day celebrated each year in the month of November. The Garifuna are proud of their language and culture and will gladly share it with you.

The economy of Stann Creek District relies mainly on agriculture and tourism:
Oranges, bananas, subsistence farming provide jobs, but they are low paying.
The coral reefs off the coast are the great attraction that attracts divers from all over the world, bringing in much needed capital.
The coastal tourist towns of Placentia and Hopkins have had very rapid growth the past ten years as ‘ex pats’ from all over the world settle in Belize… a very friendly and easy to live in country. This growth has greatly helped the construction industry as well as related service industries.

Although most of the population is poor, government services are widespread reaching the poorest and most isolated villages. The infant mortality rate in Belize is actually lower than in the United States as health care is universal. Education is mandatory to Standard 6 (equivalent to a 14 year old). Upper levels of school are optional and at a cost to the student. For a detailed look at the education system of Belize click on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Belize.

The geography of Stann Creek is dominated by two factors… the Maya Mountains and the coastal plain. In checking out the below map please ask Kent Iler (Elyria Rotarian) about our adventure at Davis Falls during the last mission to Belize in 2017. The Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary is a must visit place… but you need to have a guide to take you on the upland trails that emanate from park Headquarters. The Sanctuary is home to jaguars, mountain lions, tapir, monkeys… etc. Of course these animals are not unique to the Sanctuary but can be found all over Belize, a country that values its heritage and maintains wildlife sanctuaries in every District.

To find out more about Stann Creek District click on their website: http://www.stanncreek.com/index.html. The site is for tourists… so if you want to find out about their education and health care system and the day to day lives of Belizeans come along on one of our Belize missions.

Partnering in Belize

MESA and its project, Resource Centers International, have entered into a working arrangement with Believe in Belize; an NGO started by Nabil Bedewi a Rotarian from the Rotary E Club of One World. Believe in Belize, like RCI, believes in the strength of education as a way to best help people live a better life. Believe in Belize is donating the 180 computer systems for our next two missions in Belize. For a complete description of the work we are doing together click on: https://believeinbelize.org/stories/project-205-computers-for-schools-in-belize.

Donations during the 2nd quarter of 2018

Educational Equipment and Materials

Item Donor Expeditor Rotary Club of
Computers, games & toys Believe in Belize Nabil Bedewi One World (E Club)
VCRs, AV Carts Owens Community College Andrew Timothy Sylvania
Computers Mark Gross Mark Gross Sandusky
Tables, file cabinets, book cases University of Toledo Mel Honig Sylvania
Truck load of Books St Mary’s Schools Kimberli Glass St Marys
Books, file cabinets Misc. organizations Scott Salyers MESA*
Games and toys Elana Juarez Mel Honig Sylvania
Games and toys Natalya Romanova Mel Honig Sylvania
Soccer Balls Sylvania Recreation Mike McMahon Sylvania

*Items collected by Scott Salyers and/or dropped off at the warehouse

Financial

Donor Amount
Rotary Club of
Sylvania $1000**
Perrysburg 2000**
MESA 4000**
Audrey & Jeff Nagelberg 400

**Restricted funds for 2 missions to Belize during fiscal year 2018-2019.

News for Winter 2018

MISSION 10, TOLEDO DISTRICT BELIZE – January 28 – February 9, 2018

There were two objectives for Mission 10 to accomplish: one has been completed and that is opening 18 resource centers in pre and primary schools of Toledo District, Belize. We more than met this commitment thanks to the work of the Rotary Club of Punta Gorda, The Ministry of Education and the Rotarians of District 6600. Not everything went as planned so please read the below article ‘Mission in Pictures’ for the details.

The second part of the mission was to develop a promotional video. This is still a work in process as we have as we interviewed more than 30 individuals: administrators, principals, teachers and students. We also had a drone take pictures of nearly all the schools and communities we visited: the site we stored the distributed educational materials: the town of Punta Gorda: and Davis Falls… the second highest falls in Belize. The promotional video will be placed on YouTube once it is completed. We also plan to post many of the other videos on YouTube.

Below is a  video of our visit to St Joseph’s RC School. This is raw uncut data so you can use your cursor to be selective as it is 37 minutes long. Of special interest is the interview of Zita Arzu: time frame 11:50 to 17:20.

There is also a discussion about the electrical problem at the St Joseph’s RC School. When we passed this information onto Bob Farley of the Belize Training Center, he sent his electrician to Barranco to evaluate the problem. The work to restore electrical service to the school is already well under way.

Mission In Pictures

When the mission team got to our storage location in Belize, the Belize Training Center we realized we had a problem. Upon review of the applications, one thing not on the applications was ‘Do you have a reliable electrical supply’? Over half of the chosen community schools did not. Many of the schools also were one or two room classroom schools with student populations as small as 15.

Knowing we had extra computers, televisions, VCRS with tapes and books we decided to distribute everything according to need and capability… then inventory what was left over and go from there. The original plan was support 18 resource centers. In the end we did 22 schools, 2 after school programs (one for adults and the other for children) and still had enough to give a significant amount of educational equipment to a school program sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Toledo Office.

We visited and set up centers at every school but two. In two we missed the roads were impassable. The rainy season ends around this time of year but during the 11 day mission we maybe had 20 hours of sunshine with clouds and rain being the norm. As we drove the back roads more than once we would stop to evaluate our prospects of getting to the other side of the washed out road. We made it every time but a less cautious group might not have even tried as we slipped and slid to ‘terra firma’ on the other side.

We are always looking for volunteers to be part of the mission process. Each mission we have not only volunteers from District 6600 but Belizean educators and Rotarians participating. If you would like to become part of the process please contact: Mel Honig, Project Coordinator: email melhonig.rci@gmail.com.

We are always in need of donations of educational materials.  Our number one priority is obtaining computers.  If you or your company has computers that can be repurposed once again contact Mel Honig.

List of Schools That Were Served

SCHOOL EMAIL ADDRESS AND/OR PRINCIPAL
Sunday Wood R.C. anthonyfuentes01@gmail.com
Crique Sarco Sacred Heart R.C. v4teul@gmail.com 634-2719
San Miguel R.C. Louischub@yahoo.com 636 6902
Santa Teresa R.C. nestorassi@yahoo.com 653 4931/632-4958
Living Word Government Boom Creek oselg145@yahoo.com
Medina Bank Government medinabank@gmail.com 665 4384
St. Joseph Barranco R.C. lomarodriguez@yahoo.com 608 9165
St. Phillip R.C. jahloveduran@yahoo.com 629 6594
Mafredi Methodist nolrodge@yahoo.com 608 0709
Santa Elena R.C. dianeteul@gmail.com 654-6158
Santa Cruz R.C. santacruzrc2013@gmail.com 634 1027
San Vicente R.C. calraphael21@gmail.com 604 7205
San Lucas R.C. choco_armina@yahoo.com
Na Luum Ca Government josecuc86@yahoo.com 6611719
Aguacate Louis Cucul aguacatercschool@gmail.com
Silver Creek Luis Cal luis.alvin.cal@gmail.com
Pueblo Viejo Stephen Sho sanfranciscodjrc@yahoo.com
Jalacte Omar Requena omarrequena74@yahoo.com
Santa Ana Augustin Lara augustinelara16@yahoo.com
Mabil Ha Primo Tush cousintush@gmail.com
San Felipe Everaldo Garcia sanfelipeschool@gmail.com
Corazon Creek Julio Kal kal_julio@yahoo.com
Seremei Chapel & Retreat Center Lorna Morgan seremeichapel@gmail.com
S.B. Daniels Adult Education Centre Andre
Ministry of Education: Toledo Office Neisha Williams: neisha.williams@moe.gov.bz

Donations

Educational Materials

Item Donor Expeditor Rotary Club of
Games and toys Elana Honig Mel Honig Sylvania
Games and toys Natasha Romanova Mel Honig Sylvania
Books Liberty Center School Jon Kundo Napoleon
Computers Thomas Reed Thomas Reed Bryan
Computers Kent Iler Kent Iler Elyria

Financial

Donor Amount
Balt Juarez $1500

Presentations

  • Rotary Club of Napoleon
  • Rotary Club of Bryan

If you would like to have a presentation at your Rotary Club or organization please contact Mel Honig: melhonig.rci@gmail.com

News for Q4 2017

Mission 11 to Belize
January – February 2018

Through the efforts of Jerry Peacock, Rotary Club of Waterville Rotarian the Zion Lutheran Church of Waterville, Ohio awarded a $3500 grant towards conducting a future mission. The Rotary Club of Waterville agreed to sponsor a mission to Belize and with matching funds from a District Grant, Mission 11 to Belize will be conducted in early 2018. The cooperating club in Belize will be the Rotary Club of Punta Gorda.

This mission will almost mirror Mission 10 when 16 resource centers were opened in preschools in the Toledo District. In this upcoming mission we are planning to open 18 Resource Centers. The mission team will include Kent Iler, Rotary Club of Elyria and Mel Honig, Rotary Club of Sylvania. We still do not have a final word on our Belizean counterparts but Mario Bull and Elcedia Awe, both teachers in the Stann Creek District are asking for work leaves to join the mission. We would still like additional District 6600 Rotarians to join the team. If interested, or would like more information contact Mel Honig: melhonig.rci@gmail.com or phone 567 686 3406. Continue reading

News for Q3 2016

Mexican Mission to Puruandiro, Michoacán

Mission Details

Final planning for RCI’s tenth mission and first to Mexico is almost complete. the Rotary Clubs of Toledo ($5000) and Sylvania ($1000.00) are financially supporting the mission. Additional funding is a $1000 grant from MESA and a District Grant. The Rotary Club of Puruándiro Purepecho is responsible for the container once it arrives at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas.

The mission dates are November 17 to the 28th. The mission team is composed of three education professionals who are fluent in Spanish, and the Project Coordinator… Mel Honig.

We still have room for any Rotarian(s) who would like to join the Mission Team. We all arrive in Guadalajara for a short drive to Puruándiro. The Rotary Club of Puruándiro will be hosting us as well as joining us on the mission as we open resource centers in 16 preschool classrooms.

Introducing the Mexico Mission Team

Preschool Educators:

Elana Honig Juarez; fluent in Spanish will be going on her 5th mission. Elana is a specialist in music and dance education, working with preschool age children.

Elana, far right, working with Spanish speaking families during Mission 1 to Belize.

Elana, far right, working with Spanish speaking families during Mission 1 to Belize.

Eleanor (Carmen) Carillo;  fluent in Spanish has been on 3 previous missions all in the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts of Belize. Carmen previously was the Director of Preschool Education for the Ministry of Education, Orange Walk District; and most recently an Instructor of Preschool Education at the Corozal Junior College.

Carmen, (on left) chooses the schools and then follows up to insure that teachers and principals know how to use: and are using the donated equipment.

Carmen, (on left) chooses the schools and then follows up to insure that teachers and principals know how to use: and are using the donated equipment.

Technical Support

Mario Bull; also fluent in Spanish has already completed two missions in the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts of southern Belize. Mario is a school teacher in the city of Dangriga. He is competent in computer software and hardware… and will indispensible on the mission as he can solve any problem that the mission team may face.

Mario with children after setting up computers in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District.

Mario with children after setting up computers in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District.

Donations during the third quarter of 2016

Educational Equipment and Materials

Item Donor Expeditor Rotary Club of
Televisions/AV carts Owens Community College Andrew Timothy Sylvania
VHS Tapes Russ Wood Russ Wood Sylvania
Televisions Andrew Timothy Andrew Timothy Sylvania
Games and toys Rotary Club of Bryan/ Gary Davis Bryan/N. Baltimore
Computers Iler Network & Computing Kent Iler Elyria
Books Friends of the Library Marcy Levy/Mel Honig Sylvania
Soccer Balls Sylvania Recreation Center Chris Casper/Mel Honig Sylvania
Book Cases, TVs, VCRs Sisters of Notre Dame Sister Rita Schroeder/David Best Sylvania
Games and Toys Gail Odneal Mel Honig Sylvania
Books Books-4-Buddies Laneta Goings/Mel Honig Sylvania
School Supplies/Exercise Mats* Sam’s Club Mel Honig Sylvania
Games and Toys Denise Kohler Gail Odneal Sylvania
Computers and Computer accessories Promedica Physicians Andrew Timothy Sylvania

*Product sold at wholesale prices

Monetary

Donor Amount
Ron Mintz 50.00
Home Depot 75.00*

*Store Credit

Your donation can be here next month. Our next mission to Belize this coming March is fully funded. We now need to seek funding for our mission.

Belize Mission Q2 2016

Final Report, Mission 9 to Belize

Even though the mission team left Belize late March, 2016 and the Final Report for the project has been submitted and approved by the District 6600 Grant Committee; the work of insuring the sustainability and proper use of resources sent to Belize continues. The Rotary Club of Punta Gorda has developed a worksheet designed to evaluate the overall project and also to determine if the preschools are taking advantage of the educational materials donated for their use. The worksheets are presented to the schools when the Punta Gorda team makes on site visits to the preschools.

Some of the comments from the first three preschool visit worksheets are summarized below:

Concerning computer use:

Computer bank at Big Falls. Below is their schedule for use by the preschoolers.

Computer bank at Big Falls.

Their schedule for use by the preschoolers.

Their schedule for use by the preschoolers.

While some schools are integrating the computers into their classroom programs, most of the schools are having issues.  The main problem is difficulty of use and also the level of the programs.  It must be remembered that most of the children come to preschool with little or no English language skills.  Not surprising that they are having some difficulties but with time, perseverance and some outside help we feel that these initial problems will be overcome.

Concerning books, games, toys, TVs, etc. 

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Many of the books we send down were too advanced for preschool or children in the process of acquiring English skills.  Part of the plan is to send books in varying degrees of difficulty.  There is a great need for books at all levels.  On average what we sent to each school was 2 boxes of children’s books, 1 box of resource books (as those pictured above) and one box of intermediate readers.  Another pallet of early childhood pamphlets donated by Books-4-Buddies and the Perrysburg School system was given to the Toledo District Ministry of Education (MOE) to be distributed as they see fit.

Children 'check out' some of the several thousand pamphlets that were given to the MOE for distribution to the schools.

Children ‘check out’ some of the several thousand pamphlets that were given to the MOE for distribution to the schools.

The feedback from the school evaluation sheets clearly indicate that the mission team needs to spend more time at each school going over the reasons why we send certain materials and how they can best be used.

Toys are always a success. Some of the games and toys we sent were too advanced for young children so they were passed onto upper levels classes. In the future we will send toys, especially blocks (a big favorite) and art supplies, that are more young child friendly.

Another important lesson that we got from the feedback is that we need to be more careful when distributing product to the schools. We try to make sure each school gets the proper amount on educational equipment during distribution but time and space constraints can make this difficult.

As far as teachers being worried about the difficulty of many of the educational tools: Preschool is a two or three year program and the educational tools (especially computer software programs and children’s books) that are difficult or even impossible now for students will be age appropriate in the second year of preschool. We will continue to send both advanced readers and resource books because of the lack of books in the schools. Some items, especially the overhead projectors were not seem as an asset and we will probably not send them (the overheads) in the future.

The more missions RCI conducts and feedback we get helps us to improve each successive mission.

Future missions to Belize

The Rotary Club of Elyria, acting as International club, will be applying for a Global Grant to sponsor several missions to Belize over the next few years.  The Rotary Club of Punta Gorda will be the host club.   Hopefully we will get approval of the grant in time to sponsor a fall 2016 mission to the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts of Belize.

Mission 1 to Mexico

The Rotary Club of Sylvania has agreed to sponsor the first mission to the municipality of Puruandiro, Michoacán, Mexico. The mission will partner with the Rotary Club of Toledo and the Rotary Club of Puruandiro Purepecho to open 16 Resource Centers in preschools in the municipality. The U.S. budget for the mission is $12,180 and will funded by the Rotary Clubs of Sylvania, Toledo, Mesa and a District Grant that has been applied for. The Rotary Club of Puruandiro Purepecho will be responsible for expenses in getting the container from the Port of Entry to Puruandiro and then storing the product until a mission team arrives late November, 2016.

It has taken over one year to accomplish the above yet there is still more to do. Each preschool must fill out an online application. We use the application to determine how the items we send down will be distributed. The application also commits the preschool personnel to maintaining and integrating what is sent into their educational program. Another hurdle to cross is obtaining a District Grant to help fund the mission.

RCI is currently forming the Mission Team. Needed are people interested in the process of opening resource centers. We will have translators with us as some of the team members have already been chosen who are bilingual. The only ‘skilled’ people we need are computer technicians but any interested Rotarian is invited to go along on the mission. The mission dates are November 18 – 27.

Donations during the first quarter of 2016

Educational Equipment and Materials

VHS TapesVHS TapesToys and GamesTelevision SetsComputersComputersTelevision, ComputersTVs, VCRs, Video cartsGames & ToysComputersGames/Toys/VHS tapes/BooksTVs/Computer/Computer Accessories/PrintersComputersBooks, games, TVPallet of Educational BooksSports Equipment

Item Donor Expeditor Rotary Club of
VHS Tapes Alicia Yoxthimer Alicia Yoxthimer Sylvania
VHS Tapes Russ Wood Alicia Yoxthimer Sylvania
Toys and Games Gail Odneal Mel Honig Sylvania
Television Sets Mike & Tanya Sherman Natalya Romanova/ M Honig Sylvania
Computers Flower Hospital Raj Kanwal Sylvania
Computers Dick Binau Angelica Rinehart Fremont
Television, Computers Jo Ann Pontius Andrew Timothy Sylvania
TVs, VCRs, Video carts Owens Community College Andrew Timothy Sylvania
Games & Toys Carla Gonyer/Mercy College Gail Odneal/Mel Honig Sylvania
Computers Eiler Networking Kent Iler Elyria
Games/Toys/VHS tapes/Books Rotary Club of Elyria Amber Fisher Elyria
TVs/Computer/Computer Accessories/Printers Rotary Club of Perrysburg Chris Vogel Perrysburg
Computers Jim Heinrich Bob Ruehl St Mary’s/Lima
Books, games, TV Hope Lutheran Church Karen Baker-Zepf West Toledo
Pallet of Educational Books Perrysburg School Chris Vogel Perrysburg
Sports Equipment Gary Davis Gary Davis N. Baltimore

Monetary

Donor Amount
Rotary Club of Toledo $5000.00*
Rotary Club of Sylvania 1000.00*
Heinrich Foundation 1000.00

*Designated Funds for the Mission to Mexico

Your donation can be here next month. Our next mission to Belize this coming March is fully funded. We now need to seek funding for our mission.

Presentations

  • Presidents’ Council
    • Areas 1 & 2
    • Areas 3 & 4
  • Two Toledos Spanish High School Honors Recognition
  • Rotary Club of Elyria

Belize Mission March 2016 – Day 14

The purpose of meeting with the leadership of Punta Gorda, Placencia and Dangriga Clubs was to present a proposal for a Global Grant to cover several years and multiple missions. The Punta Gorda Club is to be the Host Club and the Rotary Club of Elyria the International Club. There was a positive response but these decisions take Board approvals from the 4 Rotary Clubs involved. One District 6600 Rotary Club has also expressed an interest in participating in a Global Grant.

Tomorrow morning is our air flights home. One final log will be forthcoming when a complete summary of the mission will be prepared.

Belize Mission March 2016 – Day 13

Belize Mission March 2016 – Day 12

Belize Mission March 2016 – Days 9, 10, 11

Belize Mission March 2016 – Day 8