When my time as director of the Friends Mission in Belize was complete I wrote a blog post expecting it to be the last one. However, we have not yet found someone to be the Director and I have been informally continuing the work. That has included some collaboration with Ms Candi on what is happening at Friends School but mostly it has been continuing the effort to find a facility that would better fit our needs.
At the October 2105 board meeting, Friends United Meeting approved a plan to expand the ministry in Belize. That plan had 3 parts: expand the school, begin a Friends worshiping body, and begin the efforts to work toward the reduction of gang violence. In order to do these, we would need a new larger facility because the school we use now is a small two story house.
In April, Ms Candi and I saw a property listed by Scotia Bank that was a foreclosure on a loan. It has taken us since April, with many twists and turns, to acquire that property. Last week we were finally able to complete the arrangements with the bank and we were granted possession of the building. This week Ms Candi is working on getting the electricity and water turned on.
In the meantime, since we do not yet have a director, I have agreed (actually, I kinda begged) to become the project manager. I will be going down on the 5th, next Monday, and staying for two weeks. During that time, I will be having extended talks with the Belize staff and with the oversight task force about how to design the renovation work to best meet the needs that we have identified. This includes questions like, “How soon do we want to move the school?” and “Will the current Friends Meeting move here and, if so, when?” You know, minor little questions like that.
In the photos above you can see that there are two buildings on the property. The back building is a 3-story warehouse that is 20’ x 40’ which we expect to become the school and maybe offices and maybe dorm space for visitors. It has a small 1 bedroom apartment on the top floor.
The lower floor of the front building used to be truck parts sales. There is a very small showroom/sales area and two small offices in the front, with a large open area in the back. The possibilities for the lower floor include school auditorium, community center, meeting space for the church, and I don’t know what else. The upper floor is a residence that had been split into two apartments. It has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a kitchen/living area.
We will be having a big clean-up day on Saturday, December 10. Ms Candi has told me that some students and their parents want to participate and I know that some of the attenders of our small meeting also want to participate. In addition, I hope to be able to spread the word in the immediate area after I arrive and invite those in the local community to participate. Hopefully it will be a big old party.
I’ll keep you posted.
P.S. Yes, there will be a fundraising effort to pay off the loan and to raise the money to do the renovation work. As soon as I have the detailed financial information sorted out, I will write a post. If you are so excited about this that you just can’t wait, please send a check to FUM designated for ‘new property in Belize’ and it will get to the right place.