Students outside Belmopan Methodist High School in Belize where more classrooms are being built on the second floor of the existing building.
UMC #GivingTuesday Gifts Make Education Possible in Belize
By Judith Santiago*
Last year on UMC #GivingTuesday, United Methodists collectively raised more than $2.5 million online through The Advance. The event demonstrated a generous, unified front in supporting mission and ministries around the world, and maximized the impact of giving in one day. This story is one example that demonstrates the work that is possible when Methodists are united.
Located on the eastern coast of Central America, Belize is a nation rich in culture and Mayan ruins. But, in regards to education, only 45 percent of youth attend school beyond the primary level.
A lack of secondary education is a concern for Lisa Williams, who serves as a volunteer coordinator for the Belize/Honduras District of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas.
She states, “There was a time when Belize had a very high literacy rate as compared to surrounding countries. When Belize became an independent nation in 1981 there was a lack of priority in the new government in regards to secondary school. The country grew and the building of new schools did not keep up, in particular the schools for secondary education.”
But, thanks to last year’s UMC #Giving Tuesday donations made through The Advance to the Belmopan Methodist High School, Advance #3021922, a new high school providing secondary education will soon be completed in Belmopan, the capital city of Belize. The construction of the school will impact approximately 380 children, 20 teachers, including community vendors who market their food items near the school.
Students at Belmopan Methodist High School. Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Williams
The generous Giving Tuesday donations were used to purchase construction materials and to hire locals, thus providing jobs to area residents who worked alongside dedicated United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) in the school construction project.
In a letter of gratitude to Global Ministries, Bishop Roosvelt Papouloute, chairman of the board of Belmopan Methodist High School, stated, “Your commitment is a clear demonstration of God's love through you to the young men and women of Belize who are already attending the school, and to the many generations to come.”
Nelson Amador, a student of Belmopan Methodist High School, is one example of the many students impacted by UMC #Giving Tuesday donations:
“I was raised in an economically poor family, but perhaps rich in desires for educational development. My parents came to Belize from Guatemala looking for better opportunities and my mom desired for us [the family] to learn English. They got nationalized as Belizeans and worked on our education. When I finished primary school in 2009, even though I wanted to, I couldn’t make it to high school because my parents could not afford it. But, on my last job, I met Mrs. Rose Binfield who promised to sponsor my education. Later, I was accepted at the Belmopan Methodist High School. I am so thankful to God for this school and for everyone that has made this opportunity possible for me.”
A large number of the schools in Belize are church built and maintained because there is a church/state relationship in the management of the schools, according to Williams. The government pays most of the teacher salaries while the church maintains the property in most cases.
“There is actually no other place in the world that the education system is set up quite like Belize,” said Williams. “It has good points and bad, but one good point is the Methodist schools are able to incorporate Christian faith and values into the curriculum.”
The school is expected to be in full operation by fall 2016 as one half of the L-shaped complex is currently completed.
You can support Belmopan Methodist High School, Advance #3021922 with your gifts and provide hope and a future for inspiring young leaders like Nelson Amador or others like him.
UMC #GivingTuesday is Dec. 1
On Dec. 1, United Methodists will once again come together to support the work of Advance projects and missionaries on UMC#GivingTuesday. And once again, every gift made online through The Advance at www.umcmission.org/give on Dec. 1, 2015, will be matched up to $1 million. **
Download and share UMC#GivingTuesday resources.
*Judith Santiago is the Content and Editorial Coordinator for Global Ministries.
**Global Ministries will allocate the matching funds dollar for dollar up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online on Dec. 1, 2015 between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. CT. A maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. An individual project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.