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Building for Belize

By Jeff Green

The tiny Central American country of Belize may be a world away from this corner of the globe, but a group of people from the Memorial community will get to experience its culture up close and personal in the New Year.

A team of students, staff members and pensioners are travelling to the historic country as part of an international mission to help build a classroom for underprivileged children.

They’re volunteers with the Church Lads’ Brigade (CLB) and are driven to help make a difference in the lives of the poor.

Though their trip is still months away, the team has kicked off a unique fundraiser, selling homemade bird feeders as holiday gifts.

In total, five Memorial students, including one from the Marine Institute; two current staff members; and one pensioner are taking part in the CLB Mission Belize Team which also includes more than 30 youth members and more than 10 other officers from this province.

The team will travel to San Pedro Island next summer in conjunction with the South American Missionary Society.

The Memorial team will draw on their professional work and education experiences to make the trip a success.

“We will have a medical team of a doctor and a nurse, members of the clergy, and a number of CLB officers which include people from different professions such as a police officer and carpenters,” said Bobbi Dwyer, an employee in the Office of Student Recruitment. “Additionally, we have staff who have experience in finance and administration, and our students have a skill set of their own.”

She said team members jumped at the chance to travel to Central America to help others.

“In the centre of San Pedro Island there exists a pocket of very underprivileged people, many of whom live in shacks situated in salt water marshes,” she noted. “The Anglican Church there, under the direction of Francis Wilson and the bishop in Belize, Bishop Philip Wright, began to develop Holy Cross Anglican School in the fall of 2006. At that time there were 86 students and this school now has over 500 students and has a major need to expand and continue to develop.

“There is also a critical need for a medical facility. Just recently a child died because there was no medical facility available to treat her. While there we will be building a classroom which will also house a medical clinic and we will also be conducting some programs with the underprivileged children.”

To raise money to travel to Central America, the team is currently selling homemade bird feeders. So far they’ve constructed nearly 4,000 of them. They’re selling them for $10 each and those donating $25 or more will be eligible for an income tax receipt.

“Our hope is that people will take these bird feeders home and hang them in their trees,” said Ms. Dwyer. “Over the winter when the wind blows and your little house is covered with snow, perhaps you will look at it and say ‘Hey, because of me, a few more children can go to school today or be saved because they have a medical clinic.”

“Another fundraiser will take place in February of 2009,” she added. “We will be hosting a soup and sandwich luncheon at St. Augustine’s Church on Westerland Rd. It is our hope that Francis Wilson, founder and superintendent of Holy Cross School in Belize, will be visiting us during February and will be a guest speaker at this lunch. Memorial students and employees will be encouraged to purchase tickets and attend this luncheon.”

Meanwhile, anybody interested in purchasing a bird feeder or learning more about the Belize mission can contact Ms. Dwyer at 737-8640, Ruth Leake at 737-2463 or the CLB Armoury at 722-1737.