The International Service Community*
Come To Belize!
Join our Belize 2008 Program (early January until mid March approximately—two weeks to two months)
* The INTERNATIONAL SERVICE COMMUNITY (ISC) is a non-government organization dedicated to
establishing volunteer service and community living opportunities in developing countries. Begun in 1995, the ISC seeks supporters to participate in programs in Belize. Write us at ISC, P.O Box 380, Swarthmore, PA 19081-0380. Or visit our website at http://www.swarthmore.edu/go/isc/index.html.
Share Your Talents
Enjoy Foreign Living
How? Below are some answers about ISC and Belize.
Why ISC? Volunteer service provides people with new challenges as they look toward or reach retirement. ISC’s ultimate objective is to permit volunteers to use a lifetime of experience to provide service in areas of need for a few weeks or months each year while also enjoying the experience of travel and of community living. Many less developed countries are short of skills and financial resources and must rely on expensive technical assistance from industrialized countries. ISC resident volunteers help to meet such needs. Participants are facilitated in mixing volunteer work with vacationing. First-time volunteers usually spent two weeks visiting ruins, exploring nature and enjoying beaches while undertaking an array of short term tasks that fit their backgrounds. Those of us returning to Belize, some for the 11th year, spend from three to six weeks and pick up on service projects with Belizians with whom we maintain contact during the year.
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There are many cuisines besides Belizians at Belize restaurants—Lebanese, Sri Lankan, Italian, and as here, most abundant is Chinese.
Why Belize? It has an extraordinary culture, substantial needs, great recreational resources, and is easy to reach by plane. Belize, formerly British Honduras, is English speaking and in size about the area of Massachusetts. Lying between Guatemala and Mexico, it is a land of coral reefs, plains, limestone caves, beaches, rain forests and piney mountains. Belize is the home of 300,000 people: Mayans, Mestizos, Mennonites, Creoles, Garifuna (Black Caribs) among many others, as well as of numerous animal and bird species (over 500) and extraordinary forest trees and plants. Belize was first inhabited 2500 years ago and has a rich historical culture. Ending years of British colonialism, Belize became self-governing in l965 and independent in l981 with a parliament form of government. The people are open and eager to engage in exchanges of ideas. What is community living like? Our base locale is in the Cayo district and town of San Ignazio. Over the years we have rented several Belizian-run resorts for our stay—Log Cabins, Crystal Paradise Resort and Midas which was our location for most of the time in 2005. All these residences have a series of cottages plus a common area for dining and recreation. We have arranged to rent these locations while you are there.
Cottage at the Crystal Paradise Resort
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Also, located in Cristo Rey, is a property we hope to develop. We currently stay at Midas resort cabins which are located on the edge of San Ignacio. This village has K-6 school with which volunteers have worked for the last few years. It has pleasant accommodations, with river canoeing, a restaurant and a recreation area available. ISC volunteers, returning from a service stint or our tourist adventure, spend relaxed evenings reading, playing cards or games, or talking with some of the many interesting people coming and going to visit our group. In 2006, we will be staying at Midas and Crystal Paradise Resort. From either location volunteers can enjoy the local events, such as the San Ignacio Parade.
ISC Founder Ray Hopkins watching the Parade in San Ignazio in 2005
What service opportunities are there? There are lots of opportunities to make your time not only fun but worthwhile. Volunteers can choose areas that match their skills and interests. The first year a volunteer comes, it is wise to explore various options for service. These include: • Working in nearby hospitals and clinics—options include Good Shepherd Clinic and public health programs of the San Ignacio Hospital.
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Health clinic in rural area with Sandy Lamb, a physician on his fifth ISC Belize trip
Hospital health education is facilitated
• Helping in our partner NGO home for seniors: Octavio Waight. Volunteers are needed here to teach crafts, help prepare meals, lead exercises or simply to converse in Spanish with residents. We have a cooperative agreement with the Octavio Waight centre, and have helped raised funds for it. For details on Octavio Waight Centre, click here. • Participating in tasks at various schools and pre-schools, including help to the founding of one at San Antonio, continuing gifts of books and materials to primary schools, and volunteer collaboration with counselors at Marla’s House of Hope in Belmopan [a home for abused children]. In 2007 Volunteers helped at these sites. Earlier years we also helped with special needs students, led special instruction and reorganized the library at Cristo Rey.
Children at play at the Cristo Rey school
• Leading or helping in workshops, facilitated by local NGOs. This could include: -Women entrepreneurship -Crafts and training in needlecraft -Marketing for handmade items -Early childhood education or childcare -Organic and fair trade co-ops • University teaching with occasional lectures or collaboration on curriculum at various faculties of the University of Belize whose main campus is in Belmopan (about 45
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minutes away). In 2007 our group gave lectures and discussed with educational programs and US/Belize collaboration prospects. In addition to the options above, there are a number of other areas where on-going volunteers are needed. We welcome any ideas or questions you have about service options. Do contact our volunteer coordinator who will gladly discuss ideas you have, share past experiences, and help set up your volunteer preference. Write to Ann Schulz at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will there be time for recreational activities? Sure. And there are a variety of “fun things” to do while in Belize. Here are three general areas. Nature/Environment Belize has been a pioneer in environmental tourism. There are many sites throughout the country where you can enjoy the country’s protected natural resources. Everywhere there is superior bird watching. Within a short distance from San Ignazio are the Cha Creek Butterfly farm and the Black Rock park. At the Black Rock park, sheer mountain cliffs enhance clear running streams with spots to sanctuary. In 2007 Black Rock lodge was purchased by Boyd Cameron, Swarthmore ’95, a former student of Ray’s. Heading toward the coast, there is also a splendid zoo and many parks where you can actually ascend into the rain forest or canoe past waterfalls. The Maya mountains and Mountain Pine Ridge reserve have impressive waterfalls and lodges with restaurants and swimming areas, as well as nature and caving opportunities. Part of our 2005 group enjoyed an outing there.
The ferry at Xunantunich
Cascading waterfall in the Mountain Pine Ridge area
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There are over 80 Mayan sites throughout the countryside including Caracol, the Mayan capital city. A short ride from San Ignazio locations takes you to the foot of the mountain and a climb up to Xuananitunich, the citadel city which can be seen for miles off. About half excavated it provides fascinating glimpses into the history of people who lived from 500 BC to 500 AD in these buildings. Day trips are easily taken to other Mayan cities, such as the Guatemala’s famous Tikal just across the border.
Mayan ruins at a distance
Our guide in front of a temple
The Coast and Cayes Running along the Belizean coast are excellent beaches, the world’s second largest barrier reef, the natural beauty of fish and coral, and with this, the fun of snorkeling and diving. A two hour’s drive from the San Ignazio lodgings brings you to water taxis which can take you to several offshore cayes. Two to three hours drive south brings you to the towns of Dangriga and Placencia. At each of these places relatively inexpensive treks can be made by sail or motor boat to the reef, to swim, snorkel or dive.
The beach at Placencia
Who do we write for more information? Details of times for travel and local arrangements can be provided by writing our trip coordinator, Mary Woodward at email@example.com. In addition you will want to consider some side-trips to explore Belize; there are some excellent guide books. While removed from our “industrial” society, Belize is connected easily with modern communications and services, such as health.
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Who do we pay? Costs are the responsibility of individual volunteers, including transportation to the country and in-country expenses. Your own special trips to the beach or on expedition to Mayan ruins should be added to ones that can be shared. A portion of your service-related costs, e.g. basic transport, room and board, though not the value of your time, are taxdeductible. An overhead fee is assessed for returning volunteers to help generate out basic operating expenses. To join us in 2008, please contact Raymond Hopkins (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ann Schulz (email@example.com) or Susan Larson 610-5438007 or (firstname.lastname@example.org) or fill in the form below.
Yes Please do send me a 2006 or 2007 ISC newsletter NAME___________________________ ADDRESS (correction if we already have it):
PARTICIPATION I would consider participating in an ISC trip in the future. Please send me information about the next ISC trip to Belize Other ____________ My friends/acquaintances who might be interested in ISC:
Their names/addresses are:
We welcome your comments and suggestions on ISC’s objectives, plans, and progress. Mail to: ISC, PO Box 380, Swarthmore, PA 19081-0380
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