Saturday, June 20, 2015

Some photos from the celebration on June 19th

Friday June 19th

Friday June 19th

We were awakened by some fierce thunderstorms! We lost power for a few hours but we were all fine and still made it to the work site only a few minutes late. However, we were too dedicated - even the construction workers slept in because it was too much rain to work ;)

So we came back to Tranquility Lodge for a bit until the rain slowed down - which allowed us to do some more shopping for local crafts- and then headed back to San Marcos. We passed out the final flip flops, did storytelling drawings, made pipe cleaner monkeys and played with homemade bubbles. The rest of the afternoon everyone spent their time finishing up the playground.

Right before school let out, all of the children and teachers came outside where we wrapped a huge ribbon all around the playground and had an amazing ceremony. They did a playground blessing in Quechi, the San Marcos city council rep gave a speech, Sarah and Elaine gave another blessing and then the lead contractor cut the ribbon - with a machete :) We then welcomed all of the kids on to the playground for juice and cookies called "hard time" cookies.

After the work day we got cleaned up and all headed back to San Marcos for a celebration with the local teachers and construction crew. They made delicious cheese dip, BBQ chicken, baked beans, slaw and FLOUR tortillas. We added to the menu by bringing the cake we ordered the day previously- everything was fantastic!! There was live music by Jose and his family including a harp, guitar and violin. So of course we had to dance and were lucky enough to have traditional lessons from Jose's Godmother. We even got to wear the local Mayan traditional skirt to help with the dancing. One final note from the evening was how unbelievably clear the sky was when we left the celebration that night- it was magical.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Thursday June 18th

Thursday June 18th

The whole group was together for the first time at San Marcos! But first Ann, Scott, Rachael and Hannah went into Punta Gorda for a breakfast meeting with the Punta Gorda Rotary where we agreed to partner with the St. Louis Rotary. We then joined the rest of the group at San Marcos to continue to work on the playground and teach in the schools.

We passed out flip flops, made bracelets with UV beads that change color in the sun, and played with the parachutes. We also gave them the three water filters to use at the school.

The playground crew sifted sand for plaster, plastered two of the three benches, mixed our last batch of concrete and made the third bench. We also tasted (which means gnawed on!) fresh sugar cane from one of the locals, Nacho.

We all enjoyed lunch at the Mayor of San Marcos's house, Vincento. It was stew chicken (it reminded us all of smoked chicken back home) and squash juice. We also ordered a cake as Vincento's wife is a baker, and we can't wait to try it. A few highlights over lunch was seeing their turkeys being called in for food, the cat "marking its territory" and holding three day old kittens.

We ended the day with a delicious fish dinner from the Sisters of Nazareth and were joined by Marcelia and Nestor.

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Wednesday June 17th

Wednesday June 17th

We kicked off the day with a delicious breakfast at Tranquility Lodge as we have every day with fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice. We continued to split up in to three groups for the last time as Thursday and Friday we will all go to San Marcos as one group.

Santa Cruz R.C. School - Carolyn, Kim, Liz, Sandip, Sarah, Hannah and Rachael- Hannah and Rachael brought two water filters and showed the teachers how to use them. The water at the school is not clean for drinking so these filters will allow everyone at the school to have clean drinking water. The rest of the crew focused on passing out flip flops for all students, edible art and making solar UV bracelets (which we called magic beads that change color in the sunlight!). The bracelets came with a nice lesson from Sandip about the effects of UV light. The kids also played with the parachutes we brought and they LOVED it.

Pueblo Viejo School - Hannah, Rachael, Carolyn, Ann, Sandip- flip flop day!! The kids were so excited for new flip flops. We also met with the principal and teachers and they presented Ann with a certificate and Hannah, Carolyn and Rachael with baskets as "thank you's" in hopes to continue the partnership and relationships. The kids ended the day with a traditional Mopan dance- it was really cute.

Both teams at the schools met for lunch together at Santa Cruz. They hosted a lovely lunch comprised of rice and beans, and chicken. After we finished eating they presented us with some certificates- specifically for Ann and Rachael as a thank you for their help in the community and an invitation to return- and homemade jewelry for everyone.

San Marcos Playground- Elaine, Erika, Scott and Leah. We dug our last holes today! ... Or so we think. We filled the second bench mold with concrete to set and also built the swing set mold and filled that with concrete as well. Belizeans don't skimp on their quality - these benches aren't going anywhere (see the photo). We enjoyed a lovely lunch with Jose Mas where he showed us local fruits and spices around his property, and ended the day back at his house to enjoy fresh coconut.

We all ended the day with a trip to the House of Weavers to purchase some local Belize goodies followed by dinner with Dorla back at the lodge. The new joiners to the trip received their "ring" as part of the All Saints Belize trip which was special for all of us.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday June 16th

Tuesday June 16th

We split into 3 groups again for work day 2.

Group 1- Liz, Kim, Sarah and Christian- Santa Cruz R.C. School. Today we focused on art lessons. We had a Henri Matisse painting activity, we made Jack and Jill dolls, and we taught the Infant 1 (kindergarteners) how to do the alphabet in sign language. We also "exercised" the alphabet! I.e., arm circles for "A" and dancing for "D". All of the hands on activities really allowed us to bond with the kids.

Group 2- Hannah, Rachael, Ann and Carolyn- one of the Pueblo Viejo schools. We focused on several crafts with the kids. We did the edible color wheel - the kids thought the icing was paint so once we told them to eat it they paused and didn't believe us! So the teacher had to tell them in Quechi that it was icing and THEN it was gone in 5 seconds :) The preschoolers were also practicing graduation which was a highlight of the day for many of us. They practiced their procession, and song and dance. They also met Juan Pedro :)

Group 3- Elaine, Sandip, Erika, Scott, Leah - the San Marcos playground. Today the weather was much more favorable! Mostly cloudy and a few showers to cool us off. We built the mold for concrete benches, dug bigger holes for the swing set, and started the teeter totter base. The teeter totter base hooks were not very strong so the locals quickly crafted new hooks out of rebar. A few highlights include a serious run-in with fire ants, Mr. Spinach showing us how to really use the water pump, and refreshing coca colas to end the day.

We wrapped the day with a group debrief including personal highlights for each of us so far. And we enjoyed another delicious dinner from the Sisters of Nazareth.

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Hello families and friends!

Hello families and friends! We arrived safe and sound Saturday (after some passport excitement). We had a lovely dinner at cheers restaurant outside of Belize city - a ton of hummingbirds! - and made the 4+ hour drive to tranquility lodge. A few memorable moments from the day were stopping at the grocery store and everyone going to the "refreshments" section right away.... Seeing multiple rainbows from the plane ... And fitbits counting steps while we were sitting in the van because the roads are that bumpy!

Sunday we split up in to two groups...

Group 1- Ann, Scott, Rachael, Hannah, Elaine, Kim, Erika, Leah- we went to the Corazon Creek Technical High School graduation and saw the All Saints scholarship recipient Arnaldo Quib. He was so well spoken and had really grown compared to four years ago. We stopped at two graduation parties filled with Caldo, dancing, and mahmmy (spelling?) fruit. We saw the newly built church at Corazon Creek and delivered the altar cloths that Sister Rose's friend made, saw Concepcione's new baby, and also saw our favorite sales woman - Delfina!

Group 2- Christian, Sarah, Carolyn, Liz, Sandip - we visited some local spots including some Mayan ruins, the earth ship (a house made of all recyclables), went swimming (and diving!) in the swimming hole at Tranquility Lodge, and may or may not have had a special moment in the mud... Just a couple of pushes and we were free!

Monday we split in to three groups...

Group 1- Kim, Liz, Hannah and Rachael at Santa Cruz R.C. School - we focused on water lessons! We introduced the kids to Juan Pedro (a puppet!) that showed them proper hand washing techniques, we had the kids draw village maps to understand their village's source of water, and we learned the local term for using the restroom (imagine a room full of 6 year olds saying "sh*tting"!).

Group 2- Erika, Ann, Elaine and Carolyn at one of Pueblo Viejo's schools- we focused on art lessons- mainly edible art, yum!! We helped them learn their primary and secondary colors with an icing and cookie color wheel. We also helped them learn shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks. Infant 2 (6 and 7 year olds) sang us songs at the end of the day while the principal played the guitar - the principal wrote all of the songs and the words were all about the school.

Group 3- Christian, Sarah, Sandip, Scott and Leah - we dug holes. Oh and mixed some concrete. In 100 degree heat. And we survived. :) In all seriousness, we started the day with a wonderful welcoming from the San Marcos city council rep. We started building the playground from scratch which consisted of the locals weed eating the area, digging holes for three benches, filling them with concrete and cutting/tying rebar.

We ended with a nice dinner from the sisters of Nazareth and preparing for work day 2.

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