Belize

Belize Communities Receive Tools, Training for Disasters

PADF Belize Project Director Minerva Pinelo and a representative of Belize National Emergency Management Organization pose for a picture with the donated equipment.

The Pan American Development handed over tools and equipment to the Belize National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and to local first responders in the towns of for Dangriga and Hopkins Village in southern Belize. 

First responders received certificates after completing seven weeks of training in search and rescue, first aid and shelter management.

Funded by Taiwan, the Community Preparedness and Resilience initiative has assisted more than 14,000 residents in preparing for and responding to disasters. The year-long project trained and certified Community Disaster Response Teams, engaged local students about climate change, created hazard maps and early warning systems in each community and planted mangrove trees to mitigate coastal erosion.  

Each community response team is now equipped with a first aid kit and search and rescue bags. NEMO received equipment including a chainsaw, flotation device, burn kit, wheelbarrow and safety vests helmets and glasses. 

Shorlette Grant, Lynn Rodriguez and Oris Lewis were used their training as first responders during and after Hurricane Earl struck Belize in August.

PADF Trainees Assist Belize Government after Hurricane Earl

Shorlette Grant, Lynn Rodriguez and Oris Lewis assisted as the First Aid team in Hopkins, Belize.

Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize City on August 4, 2016, causing millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure, as well as the tourism and agriculture sectors. The Southern coastal communities of Hopkins and Dangriga were better prepared to face the storm thanks to the Community Preparedness and Resilience Project, funded by Taiwan and implemented by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). The project assisted over 14,000 residents of Belize’s Stann Creek District in preparing for and responding to disasters. Newly-trained and equipped Community Disaster Response Teams were on hand to assist their neighbors during and after the hurricane. The project also created hazard maps, flood gauges and strengthened early warning systems in each community.

Francis Zuniga (right), a newly-elected member of the Hopkins Village Council, assisted as Shelter Manager.

PADF project participants who received disaster preparedness and risk education training through the project have been supporting the Belize National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) following Hurricane Earl.

The Government Belize continues to assess the damage, but NEMO has declared that priority areas include:

  1. Search and rescue

  2. Medical care

  3. Shelter 

  4. Clearing of debris along the highways

  5. Restoration of utilities

  6. Inspection of airports and seaports

In addition, ongoing evaluations will determine the level of required support for affected vulnerable communities isolated by the mountainous terrain and flooded rivers.

David Cruz (left) joined NEMO as part of the Search and Rescue Committee

PADF and Taiwan have been collaborating with countries throughout the region to address emergencies and natural disasters. The Taiwan-PADF Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Fund is a five-year partnership to foster preparedness and mitigation programs. Community-based disaster preparedness projects have been carried out in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Fund has delivered assistance to more than 282,000 people in Latin America & the Caribbean since 2012.

PADF & Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort Team Up for Mangrove Reforestation

 

Hopkins Village, Belize (July 14, 2016) – The Pan American Development Foundation and Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort collaborated to plant mangrove seedlings in Southern Belize in an effort to reduce coastal erosion. In partnership with Christ the King Anglican School in Dangriga and Holy Family R.C. School in Hopkins, they completed two replanting activities in late June 2016.
 
Increased tourism activity and residential development are threatening Belize’s vital ecosystems, such as mangroves, which serve as natural barriers from storm surges and mitigate the impact of floods. The program hosted a two-day workshop on types of mangroves, principles of ecological restoration, reforestation case studies, reforestation methods and climate change adaptation engaging volunteers from both communities. The group of volunteers planted mangrove seedlings in two locations near each school.
 
“Sadly, each day our world becomes a little less green,” says Kirsty Roberts, general manager at Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort.  “Here at the resort, we are taking steps to minimize our negative impact on our environment while increasing awareness and appreciation for nature. We’re pleased to partner with PADF to promote conservation and education in Belize.”
 
Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort was named Belize’s first-ever Green Globe Certified beachfront property in 2010. Ten acres of the resort has been set aside as a nature preserve. Today, Hamanasi continues to be a pioneer in sustainable development by encouraging employees and visitors to support responsible tourism practices. PADF shares Hamanasi’s goals of conservation, environmental stewardship and sustainable community development.
 
This ecological restoration project builds on the Community Preparedness and Resilience Project, funded by the Government of Taiwan and implemented by PADF. This community-based project works to prepare and protect vulnerable populations in southern Belize from extreme weather and the effects of climate change.
 
“Beyond the environmental benefits, this project is also about gaining community engagement in support of coastal barriers in a manner that is sustainable and cost effective,” says Minerva Pinelo, PADF Project Director in Belize. “Beach volunteer groups, teachers, students and other community members are becoming environmental stewards. We believe that after the training and planting event, they will continue to look for ways to replicate PADF’s initiative and protect the environment by becoming agents of change within their communities.”
 
About Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort
Hamanasi believes in responsible, natural and cultural based eco-tourism. We understand the importance of preserving our environment and indigenous communities. Hamanasi is committed to protecting our ecosystems and their biodiversity by taking continual steps to being more environmentally friendly and aware. We actively encourage all employees and visitors to participate in these endeavors. Together we can make a difference!
 

Southern Belize Communities Better Prepared for Natural Disasters  

Taiwan and PADF training program benefits 14,000 residents

 Dangriga, Belize (June 30, 2016) – Thousands of residents of coastal Belize are better prepared for extreme weather and the effects of climate change after a yearlong program funded by Taiwan and implemented by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF).

Through the Community Preparedness and Resilience initiative, launched in July 2015, PADF assisted over 14,000 residents of Belize’s Stann Creek District in preparing for and responding to disasters.

“We have engaged both communities through capacity building, contingency planning and ecological restoration efforts and increased awareness about disaster preparedness and climate change,” says Dr. Minerva Pinelo, PADF Belize Project Director. “It has been a great experience seeing residents take ownership of the project, become involved in building resilience within their communities and understand how climate change adaptation is key to the preservation of their livelihoods.”

PADF collaborated with communities and partners to carry out the following activities:

  • Trained and equipped local emergency response teams in Dangriga and Hopkins
     
  • Engaged students and teachers at seven schools with programs on climate change and disaster risk reduction
     
  • Launched eight public awareness campaigns aimed at protecting fragile ecosystems
     
  • Created hazard maps, flood gauges and strengthened early warning systems in each community
     
  • Partnered with the University of Belize to expand its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center and engage students in field work
     
  • Is collaborating with Hamanasi Adventure Dive Resort to plant mangrove trees to mitigate coastal erosion

Through a partnership with the University of Belize, PADF Belize facilitated a course on global positioning system (GPS) tracking and mapping. With support from Taiwan, the university received thousands of dollars’ worth of technical equipment, tools and software in order to build the capacity of its GIS Center. Using the software, the team was able to map vulnerable areas of coastline and create hazard maps listing evacuation routes.

“Working with PADF has been an educational experience,” says Veronica Escalante, a Natural Resource Management student at the University of Belize. “The hazard maps produced as a result of our data collection help make decisions and plan support systems to mitigate disaster that may occur in highly vulnerable coastal areas.  It has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Belize is a low-lying coastal nation that is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, erosion, flooding and the degradation of valuable marine environments threaten local residents, as well as ecosystems that many Belizeans rely on for their livelihoods in the fishing and tourism industries.

“We must all prepare for climate change,” says H.E. Benjamin Ho, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize. “We are pleased that this partnership between Taiwan, PADF and Belize has given coastal communities a head start.”

PADF and Taiwan have been collaborating with countries throughout the region to address emergencies and natural disasters. The Taiwan-PADF Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Fund is a five-year partnership to foster preparedness and mitigation programs. Community-based disaster preparedness projects have been carried out in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Fund has delivered assistance to more than 282,000 people in Latin America & the Caribbean since 2012.

Planning for Emergencies in Belize

PADF worked with the Belize Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Belize Police Department and the Dangriga Town Council to hold a fire drill at Holy Family Primary School in Hopkins, Belize. It's part of an effort to strengthen local contingency plans. We thank everyone for making this event possible. Now, students, teachers and administrators know what to do in the event of an emergency.

We've also been busy providing Community Disaster Response Teams with life-saving skills including search and rescue, first aid and shelter management. With help from the Belize Red Cross and the Belize National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), PADF had the pleasure of awarding training certificates to the Dangriga Community Disaster Response Team (CDRT) for attending a seven-week class.

Learn more about PADF's Community Resiliency Project, made possible by the Government of Taiwan.

 

Celebrating Garifuna Culture in Belize

On November 19, 2015, the population of Dangriga more than doubled. Visitors flocked to the small town in Southern Belize for Garifuna Settlement Day. A reenactment takes place of the arrival of the first Garifuna people to Belize.

"The celebration included a bonanza of Garifuna culture," said Minerva Pinelo, PADF project director in Belize, "including indigenous foods such as hudut and mashed plantain, traditional Garifuna drumming and dancing." Click here for a recipe for hudut, a traditional a Garifuna fish soup.

Garifuna communities are mainly found along the Caribbean coastlines of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). "The traditions of the Garifuna people originated from descendants of African slaves rescued from Saint Vincent where they were exiled in the 17th century for fighting English and French domination. An estimated population of 11,500 live in 10 communities on the Atlantic coast and continue to speak the language - black Carib, which blends elements of the language spoken by the former inhabitants of Saint Vincent with African elements. Music and dance are central and vibrant aspects of the Garifuna communities."

Indeed, the Garifuna have a rich cultural heritage: Modern Punta Rock was popularized by Garifuna artists from this area, and the holiday's festivities included displays of unique artwork by famous Garifuna artists such as Pen Cayetano and Benjamin Nicholas. 

PADF participated in the annual parade, which is the highlight of the festivities for many residents. Extravagant floats, costumes, drumming and dancing took place in a long procession along the streets of Dangriga. 

Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated for approximately two weeks with live music, drumming, dancing, prayers, food, Garifuna mass, the election of "Miss Garifuna." 

According to UNESCO, the Garifuna language as a mother tongue is only taught in one Belizean village. This year’s Settlement Day theme is: "Bungiu Lerebei Sun Katei.  Lidan Nei Fureindei luma Benefau Awanseruni houn Garifuna."

God is the strength of all things.
Garifuna progress lies in education and hard work.

September Celebrations, Belize Style

It's been a busy month for PADF's office in Dangriga, Belize. We thought we would share a few of the highlights from September, which is a month of celebrations throughout the country. The fun begins on St. George's Caye Day. What's that, you ask?

"While historians disagree whether there was a battle, a skirmish, or anything else, what is for sure is that after September 10, 1798 the British Baymen settlers began to claim the area, known as British Honduras, as their own," says PADF's Belize project manager Minerva Pinelo. "In 1961, British Honduras was granted self-government by the British government, and on September 21, 1981 Belize became an independent nation. Both historical events are celebrated, with festivities beginning from early September."

September 10 St. | St. Georges Caye Day (National Day)

PADF participated in Belize's 10th of September Battle of St.George's Caye Parade in Dangriga, Belize.

While historians disagree whether there was a battle, it's clear that after September 10, 1798 the British Baymen settlers began to claim the area, known as British Honduras, as their own. The theme for this year’s celebrations was “Belize Renewed, Confident, Competitive, and Committed.”

September 19 | National Service Day

PADF donated tools including rakes and wheelbarrows to beach volunteers in Dangriga. Recipients included groups from Harlem, South Havana Beach and Brother and Sister's Keeper.

Service Day commemorates the life, work, dedication and service of the late Rt. Hon. George Price. It is a day set for Belizeans to carry out community service projects in order to make a positive change through hard work and service.

September 21 | Belize Independence Day

In 1961, British Honduras was granted self-government by the British government, and on September 21, 1981 Belize became an independent nation.

Becoming A Boss In Belize: Roy's Story

Under the hood of a car, Roy Geban is in his element. This 24-year-old entrepreneur has created a thriving business on Fabers Road in Belize City's South Side, an area plagued by gang violence. 

But the journey hasn't been easy. A few years ago, Roy was struggling with drug abuse. Though he was never arrested, the police harassed him frequently, he says. The trouble started when he was about nine years old and his father died. "It was rough for me," he says.

Eventually, he got a job as an apprentice at a car wash. He worked there for seven years in the hopes of one day starting a business of his own.

Roy received business training and support through our Youth Engagement Services Program. With support from U.S. Embassy Belize, he also got seed funding to open Roy-O's Car Wash in Belize City. The training made a big difference.

"It changed me a lot," says Roy. "It showed me that if you work you can become a boss.” 

The grant helped Roy purchase a pump for his pressure washer as well as a tool set to work on cars. So far, he has diversified to washing motorcycles and has about 30 regular clients.   

His efforts have not gone unnoticed by his neighbors. Roy is a leader and a respected member of the local community. He has also become a father figure to his younger brother, who is struggling with the law. He plans to eventually hire at least two young people as apprentices at his own business. 

"I want to move forward," he says. "I don't wanna stay down."