Aloveen Continued…

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog titled “Aloveen Ran Away.”

I learned recently that she was picked up by the police in a local club and returned to the Youth Center. They will not allow her to return to our school because they do not trust that she will not run away again. Recently they contacted us and asked if we could send homework for her. Ms Darcel has been doing that.

Yesterday, on the way home from the volleyball competition, we took another student back to the center. When Ms Candi returned to the bus she said that they would not let Aloveen come out to see us but that she would wave to us through the window.

When we drove by we waved back. Ms Candi noticed that she was crying.

I’m glad that she is safe. I will ask if she can have visitors.

Update on the recent troubles

Last week I asked for prayers when we had a girl attacked on the way to school and we learned that three of our boys had been taken to the police station for questioning about involvement in a robbery.  I told you I would keep you in the loop.

First of all, thanks for all the prayers.

Here is what we know now, which is not what we knew yesterday and may not be what we know tomorrow. (I’m going to use fake names, if you don’t mind)

Betty (yup, fake name) has been bouncing around and living with friend, aunt, cousin, etc. since she was about 9 years old.  We had some conversation with her step-mom but her step-mom says that Betty doesn’t want to live with her because there are rules in her house about what time you get home and about doing your homework, and chores to do. We understand that Betty is now back with her biological mother.  She came to school most of this week but has been absent for two days while the move takes place. She is to return on Monday.

John (another fake name), during the questioning by the police, accepted responsibility for being one of the ring leaders in the robbery and cleared the other two boys of participation. His court date is March 18. He is out on bail and came to school the other day expecting us to accept him back. We told him, which he already knew, that he would have to return with his mother. He has not returned.  We suspect that his mother is refusing to come with him.  We would not accept him back this term but would allow him to apply for fall term.

One of the other boys was guilty only of riding the stolen motorcycle. He has shown remorse, his mom came to talk with us, he was readmitted to the classroom and has been really good for the last two days.  We hope it lasts.

The other boy accepted stolen goods; he was given a phone to keep his mouth shut. He was not charged. He did not return to school but we saw him messing with some of our boys at lunch time and confronted him about his future plans and told him he could not be with our students at lunch unless he was attending school.  He has shown absolutely no remorse. We talked to his stepfather this morning and explained that we would accept his application for school in the fall but that we would not accept his return this spring. His stepfather was completely understanding and asked us if we could help get him into another alternative, either Cadets or 4H.  We will make some phone calls and see what is possible.

On the other hand, I was standing outside the school on the last day the Guilford college students were here when a woman with two small boys at her side stopped to talk to me. She had recently “run away” from an alcoholic husband and brought her children to the city.  The children speak Spanish and English, as does she. After she had asked me and Ms Candi several questions she enrolled the two boys.  The next day she brought her daughter (older, probably high school freshman age) and enrolled her too.

So we lost two students and then, right away, gained three.  Wow.

On another note, we have had an older male student since fall who entered our school unable to speak any English.  We just enrolled the young woman who speaks Spanish and English two days ago. Yesterday I saw them heading off to lunch together. Funny how that works.

Guilford College Visit

guilford with students (1 of 17)           Some while ago I received an email from Frank Massey wondering if it would be possible for a group of Guilford College students to visit Belize.  After making contact with Eden in the FUM office we proceeded with plans.  The first plan was for the group to be in Belize for 7 days then fly to Jamaica and be there for 7 days.

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Students in the foreground are working on the history of Friends in Belize.

We discovered that there is no flight from Belize to Jamaica. Belizeans who want to visit Jamaica fly to Miami, stay overnight, and fly on to Jamaica.  Well, that was going to raise the cost of the trip significantly so we made arrangements for the group to spend the whole 14 days in Belize.

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The students in the background and Frank Massey are repairing a bookshelf.

We cast about for ways to be helpful for that period of time. I asked it the group would be willing to do some original research on Quakers in Belize. The Cains, the Barbers, the Stouts, and Judy Lumb still live here and I thought we could set up some interviews with them as well as with Ms Candi.  Frank asked the students and indicated that they were excited about that possibility.

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The plan also included tutoring in the classroom from the beginning of the school day until the mid-morning snack break and some hands on projects at the school, including giving the exterior paint a good scrubbing..

We scheduled the Barber home for their lodging but with the addition of the second week we had to move, in the middle of their stay, to the Belcove hotel which is downtown next to the river.  There were actually some advantages to being downtown because it was an easy walk to eating places and to school.

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during the ride on the ferry to Caye Caulker

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Frank Massey enjoys the ride

We scheduled a little playtime as well, of course and a trip to Caye Caulker was on the agenda from the start. Then we discovered that the aunt and uncle of one of the Guilford students, Christopher, lived on Ambergris Caye near San Pedro so some students visited there as well.

The students also went on a field trip we already had scheduled for our students to the water treatment plant and to the Museum of Belize.

When it came close to the end of the trip we began to realize that our students and the Guilford students had formed some friendships and so a little party on the last day at school was in order, cupcakes and all.

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On Tuesday before departure on Wednesday we drove to the St Hermann’s Cave/Blue Hole National Park which is staffed by the Audubon Society.more (4 of 4) more (3 of 4)

Ms Candi and I took them to the airport on Wednesday (yesterday) and made sure they got through the airport.  It must have been a bit of a shock to leave Belize City at about 80 degrees and arrive to snow and freezing rain in North Carolina.

I have traveled with college groups. I have heard other hosts talk about the horrors of hosting college groups — and I really must say that they don’t come any better than this one.  They were respectful of our staff and of our students. They were loving and caring. They were full  participants in Sunday morning worship and they always conducted themselves in ways that made me proud.  I will probably be spoiled for time immemorial.

Here are a few pictures of the Guilford students with “their boys”:

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Books. For Free.

Early in the week Ms Candi received a call from Mr August, a former teacher at Friends School who is also a relative of hers (isn’t everybody?). He said that the Rotary had some used textbooks out at Old Belize (a resort near the city) that they were giving away. Of course we called the number he gave us and in a short period of time we were on our way.

We arrived at Old Belize to find a large shipping container (you know, one of those big steel containers that travel on ships) with a lot of textbooks in it. They were stacked on the floor from front to back and we just started searching.  A lot of what was there was high school level (not sure our kids are ready for calculus) but we did find some good level 2, level 3, and level 4 math textbooks and some good literature.

It might be an exaggeration to say the we got a ton of books, but not by much.  The Freestyle was sitting pretty low when we drove away.

Were the books really free?  Yes. They had been brought down by the Rotary and they were giving them to anyone who would make good use of them.  We will. I promise.

Here are some photos of students unloading the SUV and bringing the books upstairs:

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Cion carrying a stack of math books

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Keith putting the first of the math books under the counter

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Harrison lugs another box of books up the stairs.

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More books

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Even more books

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Ms Candi inspecting the haul and supervising

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