|The new rainwater tank at Holy Cross Anglican School|
For all those who spoke with Francis and Vernon, founders of Holy Cross Anglican School, you will know that they have long wanted to collect the abundant rainwater that San Mateo receives and use it in place of the much more expensive town water supply we currently use. Yet for a vision that sounds so simple, this one remained elusive... until now.
|The full team - St Helena's, All Saints, Grace Church, Water Missions, Holy Cross.|
But the gift of water was only part of the gift Water Missions International gave the school and the community. Each day the team was here, they ran activities in San Mateo, either announcing the project, doing health and hygiene classes with the children, doing classes with the women and also celebrating the installation of the system. Throughout these activities they shared a simple yet powerful gospel message - just as water is life, Jesus is the living water that gives us life. Just as water needs to be filtered to removed contamination, so too Jesus died on the cross to remove the contamination of sin from our lives. They prayed with the community, shared stories, encouraged and celebrated.
|Health and hygiene training in the school cafeteria|
One of the things that made this project special was the way many groups came together to make the project possible. The project was made possible by Grace Church, Yorktown, Virginia who had visited the school a year ago with a team and were moved the the water situation in San Mateo and the school. They began exploring options and discovered Water Missions Belize, who were able to provide the expert staff and design for this project. Also partnering with the project was St Helena’s, Beaufort, South Carolina who also had a partner relationship with All Saints in Belize City. It may sound confusing but bringing this diverse group together was incredible, especially seeing the Belizean youth partnering with the American youth and realizing they were capable of making change in their own country.
|Community celebration - fun songs with the local children|
A huge thank you to all who made this possible for Holy Cross School. We are truly thankful and humbled by your generosity.
Once again Holy Cross were blessed by the presence of teams of
volunteers over the summer. Some were new teams, here for the first
time, while others were those who had partnered with us for many years.
It was a wonderful time as old friendships were renewed, new friendships
made and people from all over the USA came together with a common
purpose of helping the children of Belize.
|New railing gets a coat of paint|
If you are interested in sending a volunteer team over the coming year - such a spring break or summer or even mid year, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information. There is always something for you to do.
Holy Cross Anglican School, and the Rotary Clubs of San Ignacio and Belize City and are very excited to report an exciting first step for safe drinking water in San Mateo! This is a huge step forward for the local residents, many of whom have running water that is at risk of contamination from the dirty groundwater that surrounds the water pipes entering the community.
|Ann Kuffner leading training with first members of the community to receiving the Rotary Filters|
So far 7 units have been given to the San Mateo community, with the hope of more to follow.
Like many good achievements, this has come as a result of many, many individuals working together for the common good.These include:
- The Rotary Clubs of San Ignacio and Belize, for all their hard work securing these filters for the families and children of Belize
- Kim Shackelford from the San Mateo Community Empowerment Project, for connecting us to the community.
- Lisa Tillett, from the Ministry of Health, for all your input and experience and wonderful co-operation.
- Ann Kuffner, for all your work coordinating between the different groups, leading training and being the person on the ground doing all this hard work.
- Heather Zwicker, from Belize Community Conservation, for introducing the school to Ann, so that we could be a small part of this wonderful project
- The many other;s whose names I don't know but your work was important in seeing this happen.
A huge thank you for everyone involved in this project. Your dedication to the families of San Mateo is truly appreciated.
|Local residents learn how to use the filters properly|
|The proud owner of a new filtration system.|
|Getting ready to march to the stage|
|Singing a song|
|Receiving certificates from Vice Principal Mrs Tasher|
|Just too cute|
You wouldn't have thought it as our softball team headed for the district playoffs, but this was the first year that many of them had played softball. But here they were, two confident teams with wins already under their belt.
|Coach Mr Brandon Bood, Manager Mr Carlos|
Coba with the Holy Cross Boy's Softball Team
This is the first year Holy Cross has had a softball team and we owe our successful start to St Thomas Episcopal Church in Massachusetts, who generously donated us several large bags of uniforms, bats, balls and catchers gear last summer when they came as a volunteer team to the school. Also this year one of our new teachers - Mr Brandon Bood - is a very experienced softball coach and had previously coached a team who won the national finals.
So for many reasons we were very confident. Mr Bood and our sports teacher Mr Carlos Coba together did a great job of coaching the teams. It wasn't long before the local competitions started.
Both our teams did well.
Our girl's team played San Pedro Roman Catholic School, winning the match.
|Girls team, ready for that fast ball|
The boys had two teams to complete against. First up was Isla Bonita, winning 14-6. Next they faced San Pedro Roman Catholic School, winning 8-4.
|Boy's team, waiting their turn|
As often is the case, beating one obstacle just brings the next. Our team was eligible to play at the district level, facing all the other schools from the various areas in the Belize district. But if, and only if, we could raise $300 US in 5 days. Well, trusting in miracles and the generosity of the many who support us, I put out the appeal. And God had gone before us. I had asked St Thomas church, who had donated the equipment, and not only did they get my email which was sent to and address they almost never check anymore, but the Senior Youth Group at the church had already arranged a fundraiser for that weekend and were happy to support the team as part of it - WOW!
Our teams were thrilled to head off to the district level playoffs. For some, this was the first time they'd been of the island. For many, it was the first time they'd even seen a real softball field. But they didn't let the big city overwhelm them.
The boys started strong- winning against St Martin De Porres R.C. School 4-2. The next game was tougher as they faced the previous district champions from Crooked Tree Government School. They started well and were leading 4-1 until a couple of simple mistakes lost our team the lead and their confidence. The game finished in a loss, but everyone agreed out team had done well.
The boys team took home two trophies - 2nd place in the Belize District Rural, and 2nd place in the Belize District.
The Girls had a tougher time, playing Buttonwood Bay Nazarene School, loosing 5-0 but still picking up the 2nd place trophy for the Belize District Rural Schools. Well done!
We'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who made this day possible - coaches, teachers, parents, volunteers, donors and staff. We now hold our heads up high thanks to your hard work.
We'd also like to ask for future support for our teams - especially for donations to help our teams go to the mainland for games. Either send us a check, or email email@example.com indicating you're available to ask when sporting needs come up. We also need donations of trophies to host inter-school tournaments at our school, as well as sporting equipment - especially shoes.
|Holy Cross Girl's Softball Team|
|Holy Cross Boys Softball Team|
Labels: Special events
|8th grade students studying hard|
Right now we're looking for individuals, groups, clubs and churches to get together, raise funds and donate a full or partial scholarship for one or more of our thirty-five 8th graders (Standard VI) who will graduate in June.
- Form 1 (First year high school) $750
- Form 2: $850
- Form 3: $1,000
- Form 4: $1,200
|Preparing for exams|
|Thank you to all who made our school possible and our futures bright|
|Nurse Jamilyn - what a cutie!|
Our preschool children are learning many of the same things as their counterparts from around the world - simple numbers, letters, learning through play, how to get along with others and the rules of being in a classroom.
In Belize, few children attend preschool. Often this is because the local preschools are very expensive - one local preschool is charging $25 Belize ($12.50 US) a week per child at preschool - a huge burden when you consider the average wage is $40 BZ per day and families commonly have 5 children. Also, particularly at our school where we focus on providing education for the most disadvantaged children, few have had parents who have had the skill, resources or time to teach their children any of the basic skills and knowledge many western schools take for granted.
Mrs Jamira, the preschool teacher, who previously taught our Infant 1 class (equivalent to K in the US system), had a lot to say about the advantages our preschool is giving our children. In previous years she says it's been common to have many children who arrive at school very unprepared. Many don't have the simple skills you might expect - how to hold a pencil, count to 5, spell their name or know their age, write any letters or even know the names of shapes. With 1 teacher to 25 or more children, it's really tough to fill these gaps in learning while also keeping up with the curriculum. But now, with our preschool, we have a whole class of children who are already learning these skills, who can be role models and helpers to their peers.
Now for the cute pictures! March was child stimulation month and all the preschools had a chance to break out and learn beyond the classroom. Our kids had a ball. Here's a few highlights:
|Culture Day, where all the children came dressed as one of the cultures found in Belize.|
|Community day: All the kids came dressed as a community worker, then spent the day meeting real community workers and learning about their jobs.|
|Three legged races in the park|
|Family Craft day was a hit|
Spring break is always a fun time at Holy Cross as people from many walks of life find their way to Holy Cross school and discover the reward of volunteering and fall in love with the local children. This Spring break we were once again blessed with several College teams who did so much.
LYCHBURG COLLEGE made their annual pilgrimage and as always were a fun team who knew how to work hard as well as relax. Taking our unofficial school motto - "Blessed are the flexible for they do not get bent out of shape" - they took unexpected school closures and local elections in their stride. Their goal for the week was repainting several areas that were in desperate need of attention, including parts of our dental clinic. They had a great time and we sure enjoyed having them here.
|Lynchberg college having a great time scrubbing down walls and repainting.|
PERDUE UNIVERSITY's Phi Kappa Psi formed an Inland Islander's group and made their second annual trip to Holy Cross, getting down to some serious work building a tool storage shed for Mr Freddy, as hiss previous shed was donated so that the sewing center had a place to work...blessed are the flexible! These guys did a fantastic job in just a week pulling down an old structure then relocating it and rebuilding it as a wonderful tool shed. Mr Freddy was very happy to once again have is tools easily accessible in a safe, dry location. Thank you so much to the guys of Inland Islanders.
|Foundations for the new tool shed in place, floor and walls ready to go up.|
DIANN from Emmanuel Church in Virginia Beach one again lent her skills to our library, bringing us into the digital age with cataloging software and a scanner so that we can scan all our books into the library, as well as scanning them in and out. Our wonderful librarian, Estrella, learned very quickly and was able to keep doing the work herself. Thanks also to the Jett Family who showed us that you're never too young to volunteer and not only donated a lot of books and funds for sewing machines but were able to help the mammoth task of removing books from shelves, sorting then replacing them as Estrella cataloged them.
|Diann & Estrella hard at work in the library|
|Books generously donated by the Jett family. Thank you!!|
We were also blessed with a couple of groups of teacher training students who spent time with our teachers. DRAKE UNIVERSITY brought with them a very enthusiastic team who brought a lot of supplies, energy and showed us how much potential the iPad has as a teaching tool (if you have one to donate then get in touch!).
|A Drake student has a wonderful time reading with our preschoolers|
No spring break would be complete without a team from OLE MISS who once again had a wonderful week in the classrooms supporting our teachers.We enjoyed meeting and talking to them, while our teachers picked up some valuable skills and exchanged information. They also hosted an activity day for the local kids in town.
Finally, our faithful supporters from ST MICHAEL'S CHURCH in Raliegh, North Carolina came back for their 6th year to run a fun Easter Vacation Bible School for the chldren as well as tackling the mammoth task of expanding our preschool building. During the mornings the children had a wonderful time learning the Easter message through singing, listening to stories, coloring, doing craft and hunting for Easter Eggs. While the children learned and played, the volunteers worked hard opening up the end wall of the preschool building (which was the old special ed class for those who know their way around) then lengthening the wall so that it now shares a wall with the classroom beside it. It was a tough challenge for 4 1/2 days but the team were amazing finishing everything including two coats of paint. WOW.
|Local children and volunteers coloring the Easter story at Vacation Bible School.|
|The guys get serious about indoor plumbing for the preschool.|
There were other visitors too - thank you to all of you who visited, toured, donated and supported us. We could not do what we do for the children of San Pedro without your support.
If this post has inspired you to get involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.holycrossbelize.org for more information.
Anyone who has visited San Mateo in the last two years knows the absolutely transformational effect the roads have had on this community. Previously, all residents had to walk in and out on precarious "london bidges" - thin walkways made of old planks build over the dark and suspicious lagoon waters. But now - thanks to the roads - access in and out of the community is much, much easier and daily life improves as locals can now have building materials and drinking water delivered much closer to home.
The road building began with the University of Mississippi, who together with members of the local community who were sick of waiting for local authorities to act, formed the San Mateo Community Empowerment Project. It has now transformed the local community by providing access.
Here's the story of the latest road building told in the excellent words of the San Perdo Sun, our local newspaper here in San Pedro. (View this article with aditional images are read other great articles from the San Pedro Sun here.)
"The members of the San Mateo Empowerment Project continued with their main goal over the past weekend; to expand the San Mateo road. In the past two weeks, some 24 volunteer students from the University of Mississippi, USA paid a visit to San Pedro Town where they participated in many volunteer projects; one of which was to helping with the road expansion in San Mateo.
Over the last two weekends, beginning in the early morning, the volunteer students along with San Mateo residents and community members were off to work, caps in hand, to expand the road into new areas. Equipped with wheelbarrows, buckets and shovels, the group was able to make significant progress.
While there has been some help from the larger community of San Pedro, Shackelford explained that there are still some misconceptions. “Some people outside of San Mateo feel that there are not as many people living in the San Mateo area,” said Shackelford.
Slowly but surely the road is moving along replacing the London Bridges in the San Mateo area. The road project has been materializing mainly through the efforts of the “Ole Miss” students who continue to raise funds at their University to purchase materials. Along with the San Mateo residents, the volunteer students push forward, giving of their time when visiting Belize with the final goal to complete the roads."
Thanks everyone for your hard work.
Labels: San Mateo
|The EWB team in San Mateo, Belize|
- WATER. The engineers tested the water and confirmed what the locals already knew: the town water supply that some residents have access to - while still being much, much better than carrying water home in buckets like they used to - is not reliably safe for drinking. Although it enters the area as safe water, the pipes lie in the sewerage contaminated lagoon water, which seeps into the pipes in some areas when pressure is low. Likewise, some of the many tanks that locals use for storing rainwater were found to be contaminated too. This is a serious hazard to the health of the local residents, especially infants and children. Read more here.
The engineers identified that informing the local residents of the issues and teaching the residents how to safely treat the water were the immediate need, and they will then develop several prototypes of point-of-use water treatment systems that will provide safe drinking water from the local tap water. (Currently locals pay $5 BZ for 5 gallons of bottled water. This solution would reduce the price to less than $1).
- ELECTRICITY: The next need is electricity. Some houses are now connected to mains electricity, and a fascinating yet not entirely safe web of extension leads and wires attach yet more houses to the grid. Yet many houses are without any power and all houses have blackouts several times a month (or even several times a day on a bad day). The biggest impact is always the lack of evening light for study and general household activities.
The engineers proposed a simple battery operated system that could run a light electric load (eg a light, radio and maybe even a fan), that could then be recharged by someone who had mains electricity. The local population thought this was a wonderful idea and are excited to try it. I suspect that this might also be adopted by other residents of San Pedro who have less than reliable electricity, or as a back-up during hurricanes.
- ROADS: The engineers were also able to give a few suggestions to improve the roads being built by the community. These were to add culverts to improve drainage, and adding a geotextile under the road to support it in the mud. Most interestingly with the culverts, they were as much to let the tidal water in as to let the accumulating water out - the tidal water is salty so every time it washes inland it prevents harmful bacteria and mosquitoes from breeding.
|Sampling the water|
|Engaging the local population|
|A new generation of EWB in training?|
We're excited to report the Solar Panel project is up and running! Thanks to Baker Renewable Energy for installing and many generous donors for contributing, the 24 solar panels generated over 758 kwh so far - at that's with some very cloudy and rainy weather.
These solar panels are just one step in making Holy Cross School more green and importantly more sustainable in our use of water and power. As both electricity and water are expensive on our small island, these green technologies make a big difference in operating costs.
Read more about the project here: Global Giving