Holy Cross Anglican School in San Pedro Belize was founded in 2006 to provide an education to over 425 of the islands poorest children. Before the school was founded, many of these children simply roamed the beaches, sold jewelry to tourists and had little hope of a brighter future. Eastern Shore Chapel has been involved with the school for the last several years. Each summer a team of teens and adults visits to help with construction, Vacation Bible School, tutoring, and general help and support.
Mission Trip - Summer 2012
On June 29, the Belize Mission team departed for San Pedro. This is the fifth year in a row that Eastern Shore Chapel sent a mission team to San Pedro. The missioners were as follows; Scott and Kalli Darnell, Jim and Kelly Robinson, Addie Kier, Jeff Hague and Carter Sinclair. We arrived in San Pedro with Scott Darnell only being stopped once by the authorities. We walked up the road to Holy Cross Anglican School, and took a quick tour of the school as well as getting our assignments for the week. The girls were going to help Ginger Rogers in the morning tutoring students in math and English, and then in the afternoon they are going to paint or shovel sand. Mr. Freddy, the superintendent of Holy Cross told us that he wanted us to remove all the remaining horizontal handrails and replace them with vertical pickets.
Saturday we rose early, had breakfast at the Tides and headed off to Holy Cross, always a glorious walk to work along the Caribbean Sea. The girls started shoveling and we started demolition of the handrails. I got a little too enthusiastic and tore out a few sections too many. I also commented to the crew that I was tearing out a few sections of handrail that ESC had installed a couple of years previously. Just so we would not be burned out, we only worked a half day on Saturday; ready to start fresh on Monday.
Sunday we all gathered at the Tides for a service on the deck. James Medley had prepared a service of Morning Prayer, and we had Tony and Ginger Rogers join us for the service. It was a wonderful setting and a good way to start the week of work ahead. That afternoon just to make sure we were nice and relaxed we took a snorkeling trip out to the reef to swim with the sharks and turtles.
Monday we started work in earnest. Tony joined us on the work crew as we fixed the area I had demoed and started placing new pickets. Now a job like this at home would take only a few hours. We would order precut 2 x 2 pickets and slap them up with a nail gun. It is not done that way in Belize. We had to rip down 2 x 8 hardwood (when I say hardwood I mean HARD wood) planks into the pickets. Then when the pickets are put in place they have to be drilled before they can be nailed. In addition, there is no such thing as a standard length. When we needed new supplies, we would send Scott into town with his stick. He always had some story to tell when he got back. Jeff was a valuable ambidextrous asset for tight spaces. Jim was great in planning and even gridding out the area for sand on the playground. The girls did a great job tutoring and at 11 joined the work party. They moved literally tons of wet sand straight from the lagoon-unloading site to the playground. By the end of the week, they had earned the admiration of Mr. Freddy and outshone a group of teenage boys from Texas. By the end of each day we were soaked in sweat, coated with dirt and sawdust, but satisfied by our work of the day.
By Wednesday, the handrail crew had worked ourselves out of job. Mr. Freddy thought it would take us all week for the project, but we proved him wrong. Thursday, we started in on the task of building new gates from scratch for the front entrance. As we were working on the gates, I had to ask Tony the question why they had gates at that location, and he could not give me an answer. After we hung the gates, Mr. Freddy told us that the gates were too high. He said the dogs could run under them. Tony told me that at least you got your answer. The last day we moved to the playground area where we hung a gate for the playground and finished the fencing around the playground. Kelly stayed hard at work shoveling sand and Kalli and Addie started in on painting the new fence pickets on the handrail.
The week was very enriching and transformational. The girls really made a difference in the lives of the students. Whenever we would come across a student in town or on our way back and forth to Holy Cross, they would always greet the girls with a big smile. We heard a talk from one of the parents of a student, who told us what a difference the volunteers make in providing construction assistance to Holy Cross. Lydia took us on a tour of San Mateo and showed us the improvements. I am amazed each year on how that community works to improve the living condition of the residents. Simple things that we take for granted like clean tap water, electricity and sewage treatment are either luxuries or not available to the residents. However, they keep improving the area and look for ways to provide these services to all.
My hope is that we continue to support the efforts of Holy Cross School, both financially and with our presence. The Parish has been very generous in their support. I would like to especially thank the WESC and the Peanut Ladies for their generous contributions to our efforts in Belize. Finally, there are several major building projects on the wish list for Holy Cross. We would like to start an effort in the fall to identify one of these projects and make a concerted effort to provide the resources and the labor to construct that project on our next trip to Holy Cross.
If this ministry appeals to you, or you would just like to support Holy Cross financially please get in contact with a member of the 2012 Mission Team, or you can contact Carter Sinclair or Ellen Deppe. Please consider getting involved in this worthwhile ministry.