Every three months I need to renew my visa in Guatemala. This proves to be a challenge. For the October renewal, Gloria, an employee of Isabel, spent many hours with me to get through the renewal process in Guatemala City. A rule is that you are not allowed to renew the visa two times in a row. Therefore, this time I had to leave the country. Belize was close and it seemed the logical choice. It was especially nice that I was able to be with a group from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Gambier, Ohio.
I am certainly not an expert on Belize, but I thought I would mention a few of the things that I noticed in my three day, 72 hour, mandatory visit.
Beliize has many RC (Roman Catholic) schools. I had the opportunity to visit a few of them and we passed by many others on the road. In contrast, I have not yet found one Catholic School in Guatemala. I know they are here somewhere. I did not meet any Sisters in the schools, but I heard from a teacher that the Sisters come after school to help prepare the students for First Communion and Confirmation.
I was thrilled to find the presence of the same Sawyer filters that we are promoting in Guatemala are present in the schools in Belize as well. It seems that the Rotary Club of Belize purchased these filters with the water buckets for all of classrooms of each school. How cool is that?
I was also able to view some of the computer labs that Jim and Doug have up and running in some of the schools. It gives me greater confidence that our goals can be realized in Guatemala.
There appears to be even more open space in Belize. In traveling across the country from west to east on main roads, we rarely came across a town or establishment.
The roads in Belize, in general, appear to be in much poorer condition than those in Guatemala.
The inhabited land in Belize appears to be more "tamed" than the land in Guatemala. By that I mean that I saw lots of grass in open areas. Grass is not so common in our area of Guatemala. We tend to have dirt or weeds.
Belize is an English speaking country, though many on the border between Belize and Guatemala speak both Spanish and English.
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012