Thanksgiving Dinner

For the past few years, Sam and Becky Barber have had a tradition at the Friends School of serving an American Thanksgiving dinner to the students and taking some time to help them think about what they are thankful for.

The traditions continues.  Two weeks before Thanksgiving we met to plan a menu and make a shopping list: Turkey, potatoes, green beans (later changed to corn), cranberry jelly, fruit juice, sour cream, butter, milk, onions, pepper sauce, stuffing, cranberry jelly,  coconut oil, flour, evaporated milk, sugar, pumpkin pie filling, and whipped topping.  Of course don’t forget the plates, forks, cups, napkins etc.

thanksgiving dinner - Copy           The three of us arrived at “Save U” on Monday afternoon.  All was well until we couldn’t find sour cream and pumpkin pie filling.  No problem, I would check a couple of other groceries, purchase the sour cream and pumpkin pie filling and deliver it to the Barbers where I would accept an invitation to stay for spaghetti dinner.

“P-Market” had the sour cream, but no pumpkin pie filling.

“Brodies.” “Brodies” will have it, I’m positive. I checked the aisles I thought looked promising at least three or four times before I asked for help.  Soon there were four of us looking. I’m not sure which one of us finally spied the 6 cans they had left but I purchased half of them and made the delivery to the Barbers where I accepted the invitation to stay for spaghetti dinner.  By the time I had arrived the turkeys were already thawing. Sam would start preparation the next day.


thanksgiving dinner-3 - CopyWednesday night it rained heavily for quite some time so Ms Candi and I headed into school early to see the condition of the classroom. Sure enough, it took about an hour and a half of work by Tyrese and Kevaughn, who had arrived at school a bit early, and Ms Candi and I, to shop-vac up the water on the floor, give it a good mopping and let it dry. That process set back the start of school by about a half hour but after that the morning was pretty normal.

thanksgiving dinner-4 - CopySam, Becky, Christy, Cassie, and Akeem (no, they have not adopted another child, Akeem is a former student) arrived between 9:00 and 9:30 and arranged the upstairs room for dinner.  At noon the students, having received a good bit of instruction about how to behave at a sit-down meal, came upstairs.

thanksgiving dinner-8 - CopyMr Sam read a scripture and Ms Becky instructed each of us to write our name on the board and then to write one thing we were thankful for. If you click on the picture below to enlarge it you may be able to read some of the responses.thanksgiving dinner-9 - Copy thanksgiving dinner-12 - Copy

thanksgiving dinner-7 - CopyThe students were each served a good sized helping and ate this ‘unusual’ meal. We were surprised that only 4 of the boys came back for seconds.   After everyone was done, we made up take-home meals and asked if anyone wanted one.  I think every boy took one on the way out the door and there was enough left for Ms Candi and Ms Darcel to take some home to their families.

I later checked outside and several of the boys were still hanging around–not a take-home meal in sight anywhere. The had already eaten them. I was very surprised that the boys had said they didn’t want seconds and then went outside and ate their take-home meal. I asked Ms Candi later what that story was.  She said it was because the boys were trying to impress the Barber girls and didn’t want the girls to think they were greedy.

Made me smile.

By the way, if you can’t read it, my note on the whiteboard says that I’m thankful for the students.

Garifuna Settlement Day

Today we are out of school. It is a national holiday called Garifuna Settlement Day which is apparently a fairly new holiday in Belize.  It celebrates the arrival of the Garifuna in Belize.

According to local lore, the Garifuna culture “commenced with a wrecked slave ship from the Bight of Biafra in 1675. The survivors, members of the Mokko people of today’s Nigeria, reached the small island of Bequia, where the Caribs brought them to Saint Vincent and intermarried with them by supplying the African men with wives as it was taboo in their society for men to go unwed.”

The Garifuna later migrated to the mainland and settled here and we celebrate that settlement.  There is some argument about where that migration actually took place, but there is a small celebration here in Belize City with other larger celebrations taking place elsewhere in Belize.

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The celebration began with a re-enactment of the arrival of the Garifuna on the mainland.  Now I don’t really know, but I’m pretty sure the original people did not arrive in a dory with an 85 hp Yamaha outboard and disembark at the Save U parking lot, but that’s the way it happened today.

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There was a small parade from the Save U down to St. Martins Church where there were official ceremonies.  I did not go to the ceremonies.

This afternoon there is to be an expo with traditional foods and crafts at the ITvet campus. If the rain lets up, I may go.

Football Competition

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The Football Team: Back Row L-R Shamar I, Tyrese, Stefan, Shamar II, Calbert, Mario, Ms Candi. Front row: Jevon, Damion, Harrison, Anthony, Paul, and Kevaughn  Lying in front: Kenneth and Brandon.

Uniforms were passed out on Monday and worn to practice.  We got them cleaned on Tuesday, had our final practice and everyone was reminded, again, to be at school to get on the rented bus by 7:30 am.

So, of course, Ms Candi and I headed out at 6:30 to make final preparations.  By 7:30 a little over half of our students were there, not bad by Belizean standards.  Better yet, by 7:45 we were on our way. We picked up Mario and Kenneth on the way because they live between the school and our destination at Global Outreach, out near Belmopan, where the contest was to be hosted.

Football competition

Practicing ahead of time. We played three different goalies during the two matches. Mario, who is in the net here, Shamar, who is the kicker in this photo, and Brandon who is in the net on the photo below.

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We reached our destination about 8:45, were assigned our team area and learned that one of the four teams that we were counting on had withdrawn at the last minute.  Originally we had planned to play Team 1 and Team 2 in the first game, Team 3 (us) and Team 4 in the second game, losers bracket in the third game and winners bracket in the 4th game. It would have worked perfectly. But with three teams we played round-robin instead.  We played the second game and the third game.

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Mr Jerome and Ms Darcel get the boys together before the game.

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Mr Jerome “coaching up” the boys at half-time.

We got better as we went. The first game we lost 4-1. The second game we lost 1-0. I suppose I should feel bad about that but I don’t. The 11 boys on the field and the 4 reserves comprise over 75 percent of our student body, way above the other two schools who each have 60 students.

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My favorite photo of Ms Darcel.

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Mr Jerome looks like he is frowning constantly, but he is a really good guy who likes the boys. I have no idea how much hair is under that hat…

On the way home, I asked Ms Candi and Ms Darcel about their perceptions of the day. Both of them felt very proud of our guys and the way we handled ourselves–and about the way we played.  So did I.

This morning we took a good while during opening exercises to tell them so.

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Before the match we lined up for prayer and to sing the Belize National Anthem. I was surprised that our guys were hesitant to sing. They sing it quite well each morning during opening exercises.

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Oops. I had earlier identified this person as the Minister of Sports, but Ms Darcel says that is incorrect. This is the director of 4-H, one of the institutions that we compete against.

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Frankie Wade, the director of Global Outreach, welcomed the participants.

I should apologize for not having pictures of the actual competition, but the old coach kinda of got into the game.

The Sermon on The Amount

Do you know how much it costs to have a small “second chance” school in Belize City?  I didn’t until I got here and got involved.  I thought you might like to know so let’s break it down.

Overhead: FUM uses 10% of your donation to assist in covering the expenses of the central office doing its part of the work. As well they it should.  Our bookkeeper, Barbara, does a masterful job of making sure that all donations are handled with integrity and the money gets where it is supposed to go.  I am in constant conversation with Terri and Eden and would feel completely lost without them.  Annie, Shari, and Micah  produce articles for Quaker Life, put out bulletin inserts, update the web page and facebook, and send emails to keep people informed of the work.

By way of further explanation, the school budget is made in Belize dollars, but I will write this article in American dollars.  The usual quoted exchange rate is $2 BZ = $1 US.  And that is about right, but not exactly. When a wire is sent to Belize for deposit in our account here, we lose about 4% in wire and transaction fees, and the same thing happens if we use a credit card from a US Bank.  So, please know that if you want to send $100 to support the Belize Friends School, you will need to send $114.  Don’t feel like you are getting “ripped off”, you’re not. It just helps if you understand the whole picture.

The Budget: Let me simplify by combining some line items and rounding these numbers off. (However if you would like see the actual budget, just email me, I will be glad to provide it.)

The cost of maintaining one half-time principal, half-time teacher with 10 years experience and one first-year full time teacher: $27,000 (salary and benefits)

The cost of the building, maintenance, utilities and insurance: $6000

Other expenses like advertising, postage, supplies such as toilet paper, writing paper, chalk, markers, and drinking water: $2400

Staff and student services including uniforms, field trips, student dental visits, staff training: $2000

There are some designated funds that individuals and groups contribute to:

Feeding program: $2000

Rewards program (formerly bicycles): $600

Scholarships: $2000

Textbooks: $250

So if I have handled my calculator correctly, that adds up to $42,250

We get a reimbursement from the Ministry of Education for teacher salaries in the amount of $9000

Total cost of running the school, if we round it off, is about: $33,250 per year.

So if we understand about the money that needs to help offset administrative costs at the home office, we need contributions of about $38,000 per year, $3,200 per month.

We are giving approximately 20 students per year an education for $38,000, about $1,900 per student.

(This, of course, does not include the costs of having me, or the Barbers, in Belize.  The money for those ministry accounts is raised separately. Now I’m going to be really blunt.  It cost about $100,000 to keep the Barbers in Belize per year.  It’s going to cost about $30,000 for me to be here this year. If my time is spent acting as a school administrator, then the costs per student rise significantly.)

Summary: But if we just figure the actual costs of the school, $2000 per student per year is not bad at all. When I was negotiating salaries in the Mooresville school system 20 years ago (20 years, are you kidding me?) we used to figure $5,000 per student.

Here is the crux of the matter. Contributions since July 1 have not kept up with the costs of the school. We are running between $500 and $1000 per month short. I don’t want anyone to feel guilty about that; the costs of running the school have risen with the hiring of a second teacher. Can you or your meeting or Sunday school class or youth group help out? I know many meetings are working on budgets for next year. May I be so bold as to ask if you could set aside a bit for Belize?

It would really be appreciated by 20 young at-risk kids on the south side of Belize City.

Well, actually, the kids are pretty clueless about the whole funding thing, but it would really be appreciated by Ms. Candi and Ms. Darcel. And me.

Field Trip II


Mr Tench was the tour guide at the weather bureau. Here he was explaining what we were about to see.


We saw the anemometers. One was about 6 feet off the ground and the other about 20. We learned that they often do not have the same readings.


The doppler radar had ‘gone down’ the day before and they were waiting for a part from Germany before it could be repaired.


This tank measures evaporation rate.

I didn’t think anything could top swimming with the sharks and the rays and maybe it can’t, but Mr Tench and Ms Candi put together a good one.  We crammed Mr Tench, three staff, one parent, 14 students, two staff children, and a driver in an 18 passenger van and headed for the weather station where Mr Tench works.


The weather bureau is right next to the airport so it seemed logical to include the airport on the agenda for the day. The visit to the tower at the airport was very informative. I don’t know how much the students learned, but I learned a good deal.  We were lucky enough to be in the tower when the Delta flight arrived.


In the tower. The man seated on the right was controlling the incoming Delta flight. The man on the left brought in two smaller airplanes while we were there.


We spent about an hour at each facility and then got back in the van and headed about 10 miles or so to an eco-park named BACAB.  I had not ever been there. It is possible to arrange many different activities: kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, and swimming.  There is also a nice restaurant.

We chose eating and swimming.  And that’s all I have to say about that.



Football/Futbol/Soccer Practice

Mr Jerome, the man who provided the soccer balls, has volunteered to do a little coaching for our boys.  We have football/soccer practice after practice-5

On those days that we get to practice (last week was sporadic because we had several rainy days) we must go about 5 blocks to the practice field.  Since we are going through some strong gang territory, Ms Candi is not comfortable with our students walking to practice. So I have been loading 2 teachers and up to 11 students into the little Ford Ranger Pickup and driving to practice at about 3:45 pm. (I really should try to get a picture of that but when we finally get them all in the truck, we don’t want to spend too much time fiddling around taking photos.)soccer practice-4

We practice until soccer practice-6somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30 and then I drive the students back over to Canal Street where they can start their trip home.  Some walk, one rides a bike, some catch a bus.

Note 1: This brings up the question of a bus for the school. You may hear more about this soon.

Note 2: If you look at the background of some of the photos you will get an idea of the surroundings near the practice field.

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This is all very new to me. I have absolutely no idea how good we are or will be. I’ll know more when we compete in the Inter-Institutional Athletic Competition a week from Wednesday.

A week from Wednesday? Are you kidding me? We’re not ready, I just know it. Oh wait, I always felt this way before the first competition of the season.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

(Have you figured out that you can click on a picture and get a larger version?)