Oscar Will Be Contributing

by Dale Graves

This is a notice.  I have given Oscar Mmbali “author” rights to this blog site.

That means that Oscar will also be contributing articles to fuminbelize.org. We will each begin our postings by stating either “by Dale Graves” or “by Oscar Mmbali” so that you can understand the viewpoint of the article.

I hope this will help keep information coming to you and that you will get an additional perspective on the work here in Belize.

Time to Plant a Garden

On the first day of school, a couple weeks ago, Ms Candi asked me to put aside the work on the building and to introduce myself to the students. During that introduction I promised them that we would plant a garden.

Wednesday morning, before catching the plane to Indiana, it was time.  I had saved the paint buckets. First we had to drill holes in the bottom to make sure that excess water could exit the pot.

Then we cut off the tops of the two 5-gallon buckets so they would not be quite so large.

garden (15 of 17)

We had purchased some top soil but in Belize top soil is very ‘gummy’ and so we mixed it with sand.  Then we placed some stone in the bottom of the bucket and filled the remainder with the sand/soil mix.

Each student got to choose what seeds to plant in their bucket.  They wrote their name on their bucket and the type of seed that they planted.

I read the information from the packet about how deep to plant that particular seed and tried to help them understand that a quarter inch really isn’t very deep.

garden (3 of 17)

We watered and carried our ‘prizes’ up to the roof.  I had each of them put their name on the white board with the name of the seed in their bucket.

Then I instrgarden (2 of 17)ucted them to water their plants any time that there is a two-day stretch without rain. They are also supposed to check each day to see when their plants germinate and write that date on the whiteboard next to their name.


This’ll be fun — and educational.

Rabble Rousing Quakers

Oh those rabble rousing Quakers.

On Sunday, before meeting for worship, Miriam DeShield shared a story of one of her employees, Tyrone. Tyrone had ridden his bicycle the wrong way on a one way street and had been stopped by the police.  Things got a little out of hand and Tyrone was finally taken to the station and charged with riding the wrong way and with using obscenity with the officers.

community gathering (10 of 10)

Mr Oscar Mmbali and Ms Candi Young sit at head of meeting

Miriam’s concern was two-fold. Her first concern was teaching our students how to interact with a police officer in a way that would de-escalate a situation and her second was a concern about how the officers often do not show respect for the people they stop.

We took time to talk and ended up spending an hour deciding what to do next. We had worship following that discussion.

The result of the discussion was that Ms Miriam called into one of the morning talk shows and expressed her concern on the radio and invited anyone who was interested to attend a meeting at Friends Center on Thursday evening at 5:30. Meanwhile, Ms Candi tried to get Ms Miriam, Mr Oscar, and herself onto one of the morning talk shows on TV. That attempt was not successful but we did invite the students and their parents to the meeting.

community gathering (5 of 10)

Tyrone tells his story.

Promptly at 5:30 Belizean time (5:52 pm) we started the meeting. Ms Candi and Mr Oscar set at head of meeting and introduced the school and the center. We then introduced Ms Miriam who introduced Mr Tyrone who told us his story.  His story sparked a lively hour-long conversation. In addition to the attenders of our meeting and Tyrone, we had a woman lawyer who works with the human rights commission. She was a very active participant in the discussion.

The outcome of the discussion, as summarized accurately by Mr Oscar, was three-fold: Teach people how to interact with the police, teach the police how to interact with people, and to begin to form a coalition of people and groups who would have an interest, the thought being that we would have a much greater impact if we worked together than if we try to each work separately. We chose to begin the effort by gathering the coalition. We made a list of the groups to be personally invited to continue the discussion next Thursday evening.

Ms Candi will again try to get Oscar, Miriam and herself onto one of the morning TV talk shows and will make a point of telling the story and of inviting interested persons to the conversation next Thursday.

community gathering (1 of 10)

Of course there was food and people stayed around and talked for a good while.

It was, after all, a Quaker gathering.