Somewhere along the line I became aware of the Department of Youth Services, so I began to ask questions. I wanted to know more so I looked them up on the web. As is often the case, the website was very positive about what a wonderful department this was but not really all that informative. I felt like I needed to go get acquainted.
The website did not have an address, but it did have a phone number so I called and asked where they were located. Hmmm. Straight east of us about 5 blocks. On the south side. Promising. I decided to go introduce myself.
When I arrived, the young man at the reception desk recognized the logo on my shirt and was most welcoming, He made 2 or 3 phone calls and then asked me to have a seat, “Someone will be with you shortly.” In Belize “shortly” varies a good deal, but within 5 minutes I met Nomar Bembridge, Manager, Governance Unit. Mr. Bembridge was aware of Friends School.
He showed me around the department which is located in what used to be the Mopan Hotel. The center contains a computer lab, an art center, and a music center that is under development. The center is open daily to students on a walk-in basis. I asked a bit more about the art area because we have a couple of students who draw constantly, and I thought this might be good for them.
When I returned to school, I talked with Ms Darcel and Ms Candi about what I had learned. A couple days later we returned so they could see what was there and on that visit we met Andrew. Andrew is the young man who works in our part of the city. He said that he would love to come visit and get acquainted. The following Monday, when I returned from running some errands, he was visiting with Ms Candi and I sat in on the last part of the conversation. We made arrangements for Andrew to return to our school to meet our students.
This Wednesday, Andrew arrived and asked if he might interview our students individually. We said sure. Following the interviews he planned to visit with me about what he had learned. (Ms Candi was home sick with a really bad case of the flu.)
While Andrew was interviewing students, Sam and Becky Barber arrived to care for a little business and came into the office. We were still visiting when Andrew finished his interviews and came in the office. He looked and Becki and she looked at him and they both had great big smiles and greeted each other with a giant hug. What??
It turns out that they were both involved in the Alternatives to Violence training that took place in Belize City a couple years ago. I heard them talk a little about recent efforts to get the group back together. (Of course my mind was going about a hundred miles an hour thinking about what those future possibilities might be.)
We talked a bit, then, about what Andrew had learned in his interviews and he promised to return next Wednesday. I’m looking forward to it.