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  • March 27, 2014: Day 6 In Belize by Nicole

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 3/30/2015 08:41:13 AM

    This morning I awoke to my cell phone alarm. Within 15 seconds I heard two more alarms. It was 4:00 AM. We left the house at 4:45 and headed for Amir’s boat. Today, we were in for quite a trip.  The boat left Amir’s house shortly after 5AM.  Watching the sun come up is a rare occasion, but today it felt good to be there for it. Amir had recently bought a small island, and after picking up his staff, he allowed me to drive the boat about half way there. This 60 ft. boat was certainly the largest I’ve ever steered! We spent an hour on the island before we had to leave to pick up 120 people on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Amir invested a lot in his new piece of land, but bringing people to it was how he made his money back. Next, all (about) 160 of us were brought to the Belizean Barrier Reef for an hour of snorkeling. We saw a school of squid, starfish, conch, stingray, and innumerous species of coral and fish! Hopefully the underwater pictures we took will reflect what we really saw, but those are yet to be uploaded… The rest of the day was spent eating delicious food, snorkeling, and exploring Amir’s island.  We were also able to collect some beautiful shells, which the crew said we shouldn’t feel bad about collecting, as they washed up plentifully each day.  We had the privilege to interact with Amir’s crew of 30 Belizean men and women, and learned about their jobs and lives.  Throughout the day I saw so many amazing species plants and animas, especially when we kayaked into the mangroves around the island. On our way back to Ladyville, the sun was far across the sky from where we saw it come up, and I think every single one of us began to feel a bit of a sunburn in some places. 

    We did not spend the day digging ditches, or sorting clothes and books, but we did immerse ourselves among the Belizean people and were able to experience some amazing biodiversity. Today we first handedly learned about this beautiful country we have chosen to come to, and we feel gratitude for that.

    ~Nicole

     

     

    March 26, 2014: Day 5 In Belize by Luke

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 3/30/2015 08:39:13 AM

    Another full day at the Liberty Children's Home. We woke this morning to yet another spectacular breakfast from Ms. Virginia. Eggs, refried beans, sausage, homemade tortillas, and freshly squeezed orange juice. So dangerous! I haven't decided whether I like sleeping in the hammock outside with the cool breeze or in one of several beds inside. Either way, I'm excited to wake up every morning in Belize. This morning, the old director of Liberty, Delfina, joined us for breakfast and conversation. We introduced ourselves and it was nice to catch up on where to find the local blackberry wine, I must admit, I had to know. 

    We arrived at Liberty at 9am as usual. However, the plan today was to work a little bit more than typical to gain way on our projects. The past few days I have been jumping around from project to project to help the other students out but I really enjoy working with Michael on all the mechanical repairs. Since our first full day at Liberty, Michael and I have been working together in the rec room, ripping open arcade games and coin rides to modify them as simply as possible. The kids enjoyed hanging out with us and learning a thing or two about electrical; it was nice to interact one-on-one with them. 

    First, we tested and made sure we knew which machines worked and which did not. Then we modified each machine so no coins had to be used by the kids to allow them to function. The goal of the machines was to allow them to play by a simple plug in and a flick of a switch. Today, I assisted Michael by assembling outlets for 220V power, the needed voltage for the machines to run. By the middle of the day, we had one arcade game and an arcade ride up and running (The rec room turned into chaos)! The kids were so excited to take a turn on the Ninja Turtle car ride and play a game or two on the Street Fighter arcade game. As a mechanical engineering major, I loved getting the hands on experience working out of the classroom and in the real world, helping the kids at Liberty. 

    Chris and Ryan continued their hard work in the trench while Cat helped shovel away the excess clay into the uneven spots of land. The clay is so tough and heavy, that if you threw a piece at a tree, the clay would stick! Tessa and Nicole finished their project in the library and moved onto staining the porch and stairs of the old library-turned-guesthouse. After completing that project, they headed to the upstairs of the rec room to sort and organize the clothes for the kids, stumbling upon geico eggs and cockroaches. At the end of the day, we all gathered together at the trench to shovel clay into the wheelbarrow and haul it off to wherever needed. 

    My favorite part of the day was seeing all the kids jump on the machines after they returned from school. Although hard at first, they quickly learned how to take turns and wait to make sure everybody had an equal opportunity. I have grown a stronger relationship with these kids each and every day, and I'm glad to know that the work I do here at Liberty really makes a difference. The time spent in Belize has exceeded my expectations personally, allowing me to do work in the engineering field, while improving the lives of others.

    ~Luke

     

    March 25, 2014: Day 4 In Belize by Chris

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 3/25/2015 11:28:05 AM

    Day 4: In Search For

    Today started out similar to the last two. Each of us typically wakes up a little early to have a little time to ourselves. Whether it’s reading a few pages in a good book, skimming through the latest Facebook posts, or enjoying the already warm and humid morning on the porch with a cup of coffee listening to the sounds of Belize, we seamlessly go about our morning business until Ms. Virginia calls us to the table for breakfast. I must admit, I was a bit sore after spending the better half of the day digging trenches, but when you wake up in the morning and watch the sunrise and you realize that you’re in Belize, the soreness is merely an added bonus. Even if it’s only for a short while, I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to wake up in Belize.

    2015 Belize view 2015 Belize Hammock

    Upon arriving at Liberty, each of us made haste to pick up where we left off from yesterday. Ryan and I were especially eager to make up ground from yesterday’s mild letdown with the progress we made on the trenches. After a strong start yesterday morning, our momentum was all but depleted when we ended up digging into some dense clay and a thick patch of roots. We resumed our mission today with a more conservative goal and better game plan as to how we would attack this mess we found ourselves in. We dug for a good three hours before we broke for lunch, at which point I was reassigned to help Cal while Luke replaced me to work with Ryan in the trenches.

    For our first task, Cal and I set out to take a handful of measurements in the dining and kitchen facility. The measurements were to be used to create something that would help reduce the echoing in the dome structure. If you’ve ever been to George Bush Airport in Houston, when you stand in the middle of the dome, it’s a lot like being in the “echo chamber” in Terminal C. Cal had a brilliant vision of having an acoustic engineer and one of Seattle University’s distinguished art faculty to collaborate on the project. This project won’t be done this time around, but I’m eager to see what comes of it when I come back next year!

    2015 Belize day 4 capentry  2015 Belize day 4 painting

    Our second task had us taking more measurement, this time in the old library-turned-guesthouse near the entrance to Liberty. Ms. Agatha wants to create a place where the volunteers can escape to and have a bit of privacy away from the hustle and bustle of the home (44 kids running around can exhaust even the best of volunteers). After taking our measurements and looking around the building, it was evident that it was in need of some dire TLC and elbow grease. Cal was particularly enthused about this project, partly because this guesthouse has the potential to be something truly amazing. The hope (and plan) is to create a practical and comfortable place where volunteers can come and stay onsite, which would allow them to truly experience the essence of Liberty Children’s Home.

    I feel comfortable speaking on behalf of this year’s group when I say that we all share Cal’s and Agatha’s enthusiasm and vision for this project (and for all the projects).

    As the day drew to a close, I made my way to the library to check in on Nicole and Tessa to see how their project was coming along. I noticed several children running in and out and laughing as I approached the library. When we first walked into the library on Sunday, it was like walking into an unfrequented basement at your grandparents’ house. The library was dark, stuffy, and it smelled of old and, quite possibly, moldy books. Hundreds of books were scattered throughout the library, unorganized and poorly taken care of, as if the library was a cemetery where used books went to rest. I had no idea how Nicole and Tessa were going to turn this dungeon into an inviting place where children want to hang out and read. However, when I walked into the library this afternoon, I was completely taken aback by the complete transformation that Nicole and Tessa had accomplished. Dawn was in the corner reading to two children, and Nicole and Tessa were helping a few children with their homework assignments. It’s hard to describe the joy that I felt seeing Dawn, Nicole, and Tessa spend time with the children and seeing their excitement after all of the hard work they put into the library. This was undoubtedly my favorite moment thus far at Liberty.

    2015 Belize Day 4 reading

    There truly are amazing things going on here at Liberty Children’s Home, and each of us is excited to have the opportunity to share and be a part of PWOB and Liberty’s vision. Little-by-little, project-by-project, PWOB and is making a difference here at Liberty. Even if the children may not remember our names at the end of the day, what matters is that we are helping to provide a better home for them so they can do what they do best: be kids. One of the questions that we were asked at an orientation before we left for Belize was, “What’s the point?” What’s the point of us being here? What’s the point of raising all of this money to come down here to work at Liberty when that same money can be used to fund local workers? Truth be told, I don’t know yet. I’m still searching for the answer. We’re all in search for the answer.

    Chris

    2015 Belize gate