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

News for September 2010

Changes at RCI

We have put in a request to District’s International arm, Medical Equipment and Supplies Abroad (MESA) to ‘adopt’ Resource Centers International (RCI) as a MESA project. This request has been given tentative approval pending a meeting of the MESA Steering Committee. In the meantime the MESA website now has a link to the RCI website. The MESA website is: http://www.rotarymesa.org/.

The advantages to this relationship is that MESA will commit to ‘supporting it through shipping, publicity and warehousing services’, and ‘to characterize the above project as an official MESA project in RCI’s publicizing and fundraising efforts‘. This affiliation will make it easier to give presentations to the Rotary Clubs in our District with the purpose of promoting awareness and raising funds for the project. The plan is to have individual Rotary Clubs ‘adopt’ a community in Belize. I have already given presentations to the Sylvania and Hicksville Rotary Clubs and have another one scheduled for the Vermilion Club in early October.

The ‘Adopt a Community Program’ will give our District 6600 Rotary Clubs an opportunity to become involved in an International Project with minimum difficulty. The Annual Bike Ride Fundraiser has been important in promoting the work of MESA, and hopefully our efforts in starting resource centers in Belize will also promote increased Rotary Club involvement in MESA.

On September 15, 2010 I will be going to Belize to take pictures of the four communities that have indicated a desire to have resource centers. The project team will be returning to Belize to help establish the new centers in December of this year.

Right now the project team members indicating they would like to go to Belize consists of:

  • Second timers from the first mission
    • Elana Honig
    • Judy Riggle
    • Mel Honig
  • New team members
    • Jeff Gast
    • Gail Odneal

We have many other individuals who have stated their interest, but have not yet committed. We will have an October meeting for all those participating in, or interested in the project, at Owens Community College. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss and plan the December mission.

– Mel Honig
Project Leader

News from Belize

The following article has been submitted by Dr. Thomasine Baker, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Belize, updating the status of the three centers opened in March of this year. Dr. Baker has been instrumental in starting the Resource Centers in Armenia, St Margarets, and Salvapan. The Salvapan Resource Center is a project of the University of Belize, under the supervision of Dr. Baker.

Status of the Resource Centers in Belize

By Dr. Thomasine Baker

The Sylvania, Ohio Rotary, Family Literacy Center in St. Margaret’s is ready for another session of computer classes. Several of the classroom teachers from St. Margaret’s RC School have volunteered to teach computer classes, the enrollment fluctuates between 20-25 students. We offer two classes for school age students in the village and one class in the evening for adults. The center was closed during most of the summer and is gearing up for registration of new classes beginning Monday, August 30, 2010. We have the support of Dr. Thomasine Baker a UB professor, who has encouraged her student to volunteer for extra credit in assisting students in tutoring and homework centers.


Students working on computers in St Margarets

Armenia has had two summer sessions of computer classes, directed by volunteers from Jaguar Creek; one for school aged children and one for adults, they had a total of 28 participants officially enrolled in the summer program and 10-20 irregular attendees who also participated in football games, picnics on the playground and a community cleanup campaign. Mr. Pedro Garcia is working with a group of community residents in preparation for launching a new program in September. The community has expressed a desire to train more parents in using the computer in hopes of using these newly trained parents to maintain the center for extended hours. They would like to offer a program to accommodate after school tutoring and homework groups. Dr. Baker has arranged to have the students @ UB volunteer for the program and earn extra credit for community service.


Students helping adults learn the basics of computers in Armenia

The program in Salvapan is growing by leaps and bounds; they have developed a program for the parents of preschool age children to learn and improve their computer skills, and participate in study/tutoring groups in a safe environment. We are asking parents and sponsors to donate books, technical assistance, computer programs, and educational toys to use in the Family Literacy Center Library. Classes are offered on Monday and Wednesday for primary school children and on Tuesday and Thursday for high school students. The programs are scheduled to re-open the first week in September.


Dr Baker outside the Salvapan Resource Center

Newsletter for August 2010

Our inaugural newsletter will be designed to keep you up to date on the latest R.C.I. news. Since our last mission in March 2010 we have made significant progress in attracting interest and support to the project from Rotarians, non-Rotarians and NGOs as well as governmental agencies.

Almost all the equipment necessary to outfit 8 centers has been collected these past few months. They have been donated by (and in some cases purchased):

  • MESA (mainly desks, chairs, tables, file cabinets)…. MESA has also donated $1000.00 to the mission
  • Purchased at school auctions (desks, chairs, bookcases, mobile carts, televisions)
  • Purchased at great discount from the Friends of the Toledo Library (books and VHS tapes)
  • Toledo Museum of Art (VCRs)
  • Perrysburg School System (computers systems). These computers have been checked out and loaded with needed software.
  • Numerous individual donations of games, toys, TVs, furniture.

 

Check out our website at: resourcecentersinternational.org. Justin Kendall has not only put this together and has also volunteered to be our webmaster. If you have anything you would like on the website, please forward it to Justin’s email: jfekendall@gmail.com.

We also have made copies of the DVD produced by CoolMedia Productions: http://coolmediapro.com. If you would like copies of the DVD please contact Mel Honig: gailmel75@yahoo.com.


There was always a crowd of curious onlookers checking out our progress. This picture was taken at St Margarets during our first mission in March 2010.

On a personnel level we have had many new developments:

  • Jeff Gast, team engineer of the Lima Rotary and Gail Odneal, Nurse Educator have agreed to join the team on their second mission in December.
  • Toni Gonzalez, our historian, is currently having one of the pictures she took in Belize shown at the 92nd Annual Toledo Area Arts Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art (featured above).
  • Several people have expressed an interest in going to Belize in December, but are unable to commit at this time. They include computer experts, school teachers, librarians, etc. Two of them were recruited through the efforts of Judy Riggle. Several individuals have made monetary contributions to RCI.
  • Mel Honig, Sylvania Rotary, made a fund raising mission to New York and Philadelphia in early July and brought back a truck full of games and toys, and some monetary donations. Hopefully more financial support will come as a result of the trip. Mel has also made presentations at the Hicksville Rotary, District 6600 Conference and the World Community Workshop.

 

News from Belize

The three centers that were established in March are still functional.

Mel Honig will be returning to Belize in September to insure that there will be four more sites to open in December. While there he plans to meet with Valentino Shal, Program Manager, Business and Organizational Development & Youth Development, United States Peace Corps. The continued support of the Peace Corps will be most helpful in ensuring that each site has support after the project team completes their work. He will be also meeting with Eric Maas of the Belmopan Rotary to coordinate shipping and storing of product from the November shipment.

Tim Tam (the Word at Work) and the Belize Natural Energy Trust will continue to lend their financial support by subsidizing the entire cost of the November shipment.

Future Needs

There is still a need to establish a team to return to Belize to open the next four centers. I have three definite commitments and several who would like to go, but cannot commit at this time. If you want to go on the next mission please inform the project coordinator, Mel Honig (gailmel75@yahoo.com).

There is also a need for financial support for physical year 2010 – 2011. We have already raised $7400 of the $17,000 budgeted for the physical year.