Belize All-Quaker Meeting

A year ago Sylvia and I hosted a meeting of all the Quakers we could find in Belize.  The Barbers, the Stouts, the Cains, and Sylvia and I met at the home of Sam and Becky Barber. That was so much fun that we decided to do it again this year.  We asked Andy and Lisa Stout if they would host the gathering if Sylvia and I cooked the meal (mostly Sylvia.)

This year we included the new Friends who have been attending the fledgling Friends Meeting here in Belize City.  I borrowed the bus from school. We picked up Judy Lumb at the San Pedro Express water taxi from Caye Caulker, then we picked up the Barbers, the deShields, then Mike and Kay Cain andDSC03588 headed to Belmopan.

Don’t we all look wide awake and ready to go? This pic was taken about 8:30 am, just after we had picked up the Cains.

 

 

 

When we arrived in Belmopan we discovered that Andy and Lisa Stouts daughter, Andrea, had taken ill just before our arrival and Lisa had taken her back home.  We walked up the stairs to PathLight headquarters, where Andy and Lisa work, got the food cooking, and settled in for a time of worship.  Becky Barber brought the reflection for the day.

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Singing “This Little Light of Mine” for Omar

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Following meeting for worship we shared sloppy joes, potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans and lots of conversation.  Then we gathered into a circle to tell each other what we are ‘up to’ just now.  Andy told us about the facility where we were meeting and the work of Path Light International and we were glad to get to know each other a bit better.

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Just as we were prepared to leave Belmopan, Lisa and Andrea arrived and we were able to greet them as well.  I’m already looking forward to the next All-Friends gathering in Belize.

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front row; l-r, Naema Barber, Omar deShield, Malique Barber, Cassie Barber. Center row; l-r, Sylvia Graves, Judy Lumb, Kay Cain, Kristy Barber, MIriam deShield. Back Row; l-r, Dale Graves, Andy Stout, Mike Cain, Becky Barber, Sam Barber, Philip de Shield, Gliselle deShield, Miriam deShield, Christopher deShield

Getting Glasses

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Jaheim seeing the specialist. Sorry, it was dark in there and all I had was the phone.

Last summer Ms Darcel noticed an article in the paper about the Lions Club bringing some new equipment to Belize and that the Lions would be traveling to the elementary schools giving eye tests.  We are not a typical elementary school so they probably would never visit us, but it prompted Ms Candi to make a phone call to BCVI (Belize Council for the Visually Impaired).  BCVI is a non profit here in Belize dedicated to the idea that all people deserve to be able to see. It seems to have some association with the Lions Club, but I’m not sure how all that works.

Side note: Last spring when the planning team was in Belize, Wayne Carter noticed the Lions club sign and we stopped in to talk with them. They mentioned the BCVI and took us over to visit so I was aware of it. Thanks Wayne.

Near the first of September, Ms Candi called to see what arrangements we could make for examinations for our students. We brought the first group of students for eye exams on September 11. The second group came later in September, and tomorrow the last group will come.  Our staff will get eye exams tomorrow as well.  (Candi just admitted that she has never has an eye exam so it will be good for our staff as well.)

Many of our students do need glasses.  While we were at the BCVI office the students picked out their frames, the prescriptions will be ready in a couple weeks.  The glasses are supposed to cost between $40 and $120 BZE ($20 and $60 USD) but the receptionist told us that we could get them paid for by Matron Roberts (national health) so we are following up on that.

Two of our students, Jaheim and Keith, needed to see the specialist.  Keith has some deterioration of some blood vessels behind his eye and they gave his some eye drops to take every day for a while. If I understand correctly, the condition is not really repairable, but the drops will help prevent further deterioration.

I’m not sure what Jaheim’s eye problem is. We are waiting for the doctor right now in the air-conditioned waiting room. (Even in Belize, where there is air conditioning, the temperature is set ridiculously low–I’m cold and Jaheim is sitting beside me actually shivering.)

Each time one of the students has to see the specialist we must pay $20. Remember that line item we added to the budget last year for “student services?” We just spent a little of it.

I thought you might enjoy the photo below of the students from the 2nd visit mugging for the camera.

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P.S. I had just finished writing this when the doctor was able to see Jaheim. He has astigmatism in both eyes, rather severe in the left eye, but good eyeglasses should correct it. Yea.

Aloveeen Ran Away

Aloveen came to us from the Youth Center. The youth center is a government agency that houses young people who have been referred by their families or the courts. Students from the youth center are delivered to school by a van from the center and the van returns in the afternoon to pick them up. You may remember that last year Tyrese was a resident of the Youth Center when he first came to us.

Aloveen was the first girl to come to our school this year, shortly after school began.  We knew ahead of time that she had been abused and we were worried that there might be some acting out in class but she was a good participant from the very beginning and was especially attentive and participatory during the afternoons that we had the AVP workshop.

Monday of this week she was not at school. Monday afternoon the Youth Center called and said that Aloveen had come to school on Friday and had not been there when the bus returned to pick her up on Friday evening.  They wanted to know what we did to cause this situation.

Here’s the thing. We didn’t have school on Friday.  The practice in Belize is to have the students write a note in their recitation book. The teacher signs the note and the student shows it to their parent or guardian so everyone knows that school is not in session.  It is also practice to not give out such a note until the day before the event because there are attendance issues if the students know very far ahead of time.

We had given out such a note on Thursday of last week, because School Board Meeting was on Friday. What we have figured out since is that Aloveen never showed the note to her supervisor at the Youth Center. The van brought her to school on Friday. We were not there when she arrived but the van driver left her off anyway.  I can imagine that conversation,.

“Are you sure it’s ok?”

“Oh yes, they will be here soon.”

“Well, OK, I’ll pick you up at 4, alright?”

“Yes, sure.”

On Tuesday, Ms Candi had a little conversation with the other girls. Their comment was that Aloveen had planned it but that they didn’t think she would really go through with it.

I guess she did plan it, she planned it really well, because no one seems to know where she is now.  If she ever returns we will take her back, but it’s likely we may never see her again. I pray that she is ok.

Sometimes hindsight is 20-20. From now on we will make a quick phone call to the youth center when we do not have school.  Pretty smart huh?