Friday, March 27, 2009

A Recap of Our Last Day of Work in Belize

The first few days we were told that breakfast would be ready at 7, so we were downstairs and waiting by 6:55am every morning.  Well, by Thursday morning we had learned that when people said breakfast would be served at 7, that really meant 7:20-ish.  So on Thursday the four of us ladies wandered up to the roof to enjoy the cool morning breeze and sunrise.  All week long we had a "buddy system," so we decided to take buddy pictures while we had a few moments of free time. 

Jennifer and Stacy:

Sophie and Michelle:
After a delicious breakfast (this was what our normal breakfast was everyday),

 we all headed off to the Burial Grounds.  The first task was to unload a truck load of cinder blocks to finish off the floor of the school addition. 

And then, it was time to head our separate ways.  Scot and Jerry headed to the market.  Unlike in the States, where we can just go to Kroger on a weekly/monthly basis, people in Belize have to go to the market much more frequently to get fresh food as they need it.  So, Scot and Jerry went to the market to get our food for lunch and dinner. 

In case you still have a hard time picturing where we were every time we mention the Burial Grounds (the part of Belize City where we spent most of the time working, where Unity Presbyterian Church is located), here are a few more pictures.

In the background you can see the actual cemetery which the area is named for.  In the foreground you can see two of the houses where families live.  

A few more shots of the different houses.

Stacy, Michelle, Jennifer, and Sophie headed out to Belmopan to visit King's Children's Home.  Unlike the government run children's home we visited earlier in the week, this was a place full of hope.  Leonie, a former abuse survivor herself, felt moved to start a home for children from similar of upbringings.  She is a licenced social worker, and a strong Christian who runs her home on Christian values.  The children are up by 5am to have a time of devotionals and worship before school.  Leonie is licenced to have up to 45 children in the house at any one time, and right now there are 42 children from the ages of 0-18 living there. From the time the home first opened in 1985, over 600 children have lived there.   

We took quite a few pictures of the children, but Leonie asked us not to post any of them online.  We did take this picture of the philosophy of the home posted on the wall.

This home was run with love an compassion, and it had such a different atmosphere than the state run children's home in Belize City we visited earlier in the week.  The only problem is that the kids and Leonie are living in a very tight space.  This is a picture of the land that makes up the majority of their back yard.  
The good news is that Leonie has recently purchased 14 acres of land just outside the city limits of Belmopan.  The goal is to have a road built to that land by June, and to begin the construction on a volunteer village and the well (currently they are paying the equivalent of $1,000 US per day for water, and having a well would drastically reduce that cost).  It was so inspiring to hear Leonie's incredible vision for how this land can be used.

Following Leonie's, Michelle and Sophie were dropped off at the prison to join part of the Lubbock group there.  Stacy and Jennifer returned to the Burial Grounds where they continued to work on the school.  While they were there, the group presented Kenny with a house warming present.
We quickly learned the benefits of having brought our very own paramedics with us (none of us sustained major injuries on the trips, but it was still nice to have them around to help with cuts and bruises).
Originally we were told that cameras would not be allowed in the prisons, so Michelle and Sophie were surprised to find one of the women from Lubbock taking pictures when they arrived.  The women inmates were thrilled to have their picture taken, and were constantly asking to be in another picture.  These are just a few of the many pictures taken that day.

The main sewing project we worked on with the women was boxer shorts.  It was a simple project that would teach them the fundamentals of sewing.  This is a woman named Michelle with her almost finished shorts.
A side project was painting quilt squares.  We asked the women to paint images of what made them happy on quilt squares (and then the Lubbock group will sew the majority of the squares together in a quilt and auction it off to raise money for future Belize mission trips).  Right before we left the prison on Wednesday, the women asked us for extra squares.  During the night they painted the following:

(B.C.P. = Belize Central Prison)
We were all very touched at their thoughtfulness and hard work.

In addition to painting and sewing, we spent much of our time at the prison chatting with the woman, learning more about their stories.  

You might have noticed in some of the last few pictures that a few of the women from our team had braids in our hair.... Many tourists pay for their hair to be braided when they go to Belize, or other tropical locations.  We have woman and youth at the children's home and prison volunteer to do it for us.

That last night we had a BBQ of chicken and tapir.  This was the crew that cooked dinner (with Kenny in the background).
Before dinner we played soccer with the boys of Belize.  After dinner, however, the boys entertained themselves by climbing on Scot and Jerry.

Michelle brought some relief by bringing bags of candy (though it disappeared in a matter of seconds).
The next morning was our last morning together as an entire group.  In case you are curious why there is a seventh person in this picture, that is Beth.  She works for the Word at Work.  She was with us in Belize all week and was a tremendous gift and blessing to our team.  

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