Rosalie and Adrian in Belize, Vol. 1, Ch. 2

Hello Everyone.  Two more weeks in Belize City.  We have learned much, we are still learning.  One thing we have learned is that managing this Blog site is trickier than we thought.  Much as we love Dale, we would like to change his image at the top of the page, or even join him there.  He continues to be a great help to us, as he engages with his illness there in Mooresville, IN.  Please join us holding Dale and Sylvia in the Light.

This week we have had with us two Friends from Wichita, Patrice and David Stephenson, who have been here many times before, and six Young Adult Friends from Western Yearly Meeting, all of whom came to do whatever they found needing to be done.  They’ve painted the floor of the Meeting room, they’ve removed rust and painted the ironwork around the rooftop and the stairs, they’ve cleaned the plaza of dust (it’ll be back, but it will be new dust), they’ve tiled showers in the work-campers’ dormitory; they’ve worked with the students on an art project; and Patrice has cooked delicious meals for us all.  They’ve also tubed down a river through a cave with ancient Mayan artifacts in Blue Hole National Park, visited the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Altun Ha, and snorkeled over the Central American reef out from Caye Caulker.  They are all good workers and they know how to have a good time!  We enjoyed having them here.  We went on the Caye Caulker snorkeling trip with them and to Altun Ha.  Wonderful to have hosting duties to give us an excuse!

Adrian’s list of the needs of the buildings here at Friends Centre was shortened a bit by the work of this fine team of Friends, and is being shortened more by some local tradespeople, a plumber, a carpenter, and an electronics man.  All of this keeps Adrian exceedingly busy, along with helping to coach sports and working with the Center’s pastor, Oscar Mmbali on the Community Safety Forum and the Youth Leadership group. These groups are working to produce 1 minute videos that they hope will be seen as news briefs before and during local news broadcasts.  They filmed the first one this week, featuring their own script, our FS children, and local police officers, on how police and kids often interact,  and how they could interact better.  Their filming attracted a crowd.  Seeing a police vehicle and many young people neighbors and passers-by thought an incident was occuring.  It was, a very good one!

I am enjoying my mentoring relationship with the teachers.  The conditions they are working in are difficult and they work hard to support the students and help them find their way. Of course, I stand to learn a lot, too.   Yesterday, I observed a class where the students were learning about the protected areas of their country: forest reserves, marine reserves, wildlife preserves (the only jaguar sanctuary on the planet), archeological sites.  Adrian and I traveled around Belize during Christmas break in 2008, but we didn’t see everything.  Now Ms. Athina’s students and I all want to see more!

I enjoy the students, though I do not have enough energy for them!   One young fellow likes to read to me.  He’s 11 or 12 and just learning to read; and enjoying it!

Athletic activities continue apace.  The volleyball tournament was held two weeks ago in Belmopan, and this past week was the basketball tournament.  The Friends School basketball team didn’t win the tournament, but they won several of their games and one of our players received the Most Valuable Player designation.  Now we begin the track and field two week season and the final athletic tournament of the year. Whoosh! a year in 6 weeks.  This wasn’t by design.  Weather interfered with the usual pattern of events and this was the best that could be done.

I’ve been working with other folks to develop a proposal for funding from the US Embassy for a project that is intended to improve safety and security for young people especially but for all residents of the southside of Belize City.  We are not optimistic about receiving one of the Embassy grants, but writing the proposal is giving us an opportunity to clarify what we want to do, see how it all fits together, who we think we can collaborate with, and what the costs might be.  Since I am here at the school and in a position to hear from everyone frequently and in some depth, I’ve done most of the writing so far.  It’s certainly an interesting exercise.

The level of poverty on the southside of Belize City is extreme.  The rate of murders per 100,000 is about twice that of Baltimore’s.  Human trafficking, both through Belize and in it, is a huge danger here.  We believe that there is a lot that can be done to enable change.  We hope that if we are able to find the funding we will also be able to bring together enough talent to lead the work forward.

We thank you, our friends, for all you are to us, and we send you love and Light as you follow your own calling wherever you are.

Rosalie and Adrian