Spent a week in Belize, South America, and here is what it is all about. Our Rotary District 5370 (60 Rotary Clubs) has a project to assist with schooling here. The whole program is described here but in a nut shell the District and individual clubs want to improve schooling.
These children to the left were in a small school of 80 students in a village 2 hours off the pavement near the Guatemala border. The Rotary Club of Camrose adopted them. When this happens the principal needs to fill out a needs assessment and the club then tries to fill those needs. This time the club included a few members in our trip so they brought some books and equipment and other items the principal asked for. The kids were very pleasant and of course grateful.
We visited around 6 schools or so… and they varied greatly in needs and where they were presently at. Some had power, some didn’t. Some had internet, some didn’t.
The program also meets with the principals of schools – around 16 this time. They were given refurbished netbooks to get some online training going for staff of the schools and students. Local Rotarians assisted as well.
Two people I met that were quite inspirational were Sheree and Aki Fukai. They are Americans, retired, and now living in the area. Briefly, they wanted to devote their time to improving the community where they can. So they work
with Rotary and other organizations for the betterment of the area. They said they first came to Belize on a cruise ship and fell in love with the area. They now have a home here and are full-time working on community programs. very cool, very interesting people.
Of course trips like this can’t be all work (?) and no play. We spent the last few days in Caye Caulker, a small island. Did some snorkeling and relaxing before we head back.
We traveled with the Chair (Jackie Hobal) and a team from Edmonton, Athabasca and Camrose who also mixed in a bit of down time as well. Most of the team were either educators and or Rotarians. Like any project its good to visit the area you are working with to ensure all is on track.
Belize is a country of 300,000 people, the largest city is Belize – at 50,000. While there are a few languages the signage is all English and it is very, very common. The country is a member of the commonwealth so we share that. Like any Central American country they have their challenges for sure. But their children smile and their way of life is what they are comfortable with. It may be different from ours – but it sure doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worse – just different. It has been fun to meet the school administrations and see how we can assist.