Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away ...
My wife and I purchased this 932 acre triangle of land in Belize without any clear purpose or plan for its use, simply because I was enchanted with the possibility of owning a chunk of jungle in a social environment where I felt completely at ease. The people, though amazingly poor, are friendly, gracious and welcoming, especially the children. We visited the property a few times after the purchase and noticed some of the trees, especially the mahogany, were being cut. I contacted the local village council and made the offer of assisting the school and community if they could stop the removal of trees. My hope is to make trails through the jungle for sightseeing and bird watching. We have seen tapirs, jaguars and their kittens, many and various birds, plants (including several orchids) and bugs of all types and sizes.Since that meeting no trees have been cut and in January of ‘08 we took down computers and about 2,000 books for the school. In July of ’09 my grandson, Ryland Shattuck, and I went down, with funds we had received from many donors and a grant through Kennett Meeting, and built a library building in the village. Community labor is being volunteered and some of the needed materials have been donated by businesses in Orange Walk, the nearest real town.
Education in Belize is free through the sixth grade. After that the student must pay tuition and buy books. The annual cost per student is in the neighborhood of $450.00US. While this seems small to us, most of the students cannot afford the fee and as a result they are put into the labor force and condemned to a life of chopping cane or similar menial and low paying jobs. One significant thing we are doing is sending students from the village school (total student body for the six grades was 142 in the ’10-’11 school year) that can pass the tests to qualify for further education, on to what is called 1st form (equivalent to our 7th grade). 2008 was the first year we did this and we are making a six year commitment to the students. In 2008 we had four students. Assuming they continue to wish to go and can qualify we will fund them through 6th form (equivalent to our 12th grade). In 2009 we had seven students sponsored. We are looking for sponsors for the class of 2012/13 and beyond and expect there will be between five and ten students each year. Your sponsorship can be done anonymously or you can be given the student’s name, address and bio information. We have 15 students sponsored this year and would like to get at least five more sponsors lined up until we know the exact number for next year. If you agree to sponsor, please understand you are making a six year promise to a kid you may never see and whose total annual family income is probably less than the cost of your refrigerator.
Please go to www.belizebirdsltd.com and check out the pictures of the school and the students. Thank you for your consideration.
If you are interested in traveling to Belize, or know of someone who is, please contact me for a low cost (free) seminar on what to expect and how to see something that is not in the travel brochures. I also have more books to go down if you care to take an extra suitcase.
© 2012 belizebirdsltd.com site last updated 6/02/2016 by Bob Brumbaugh
Belize Birds Limited