PWOB’s first ever trip to Belize occurred in March 2011, with PWOB co-founders Cal Ihler and Mike Mullen leading a team of five students and one alumnus plus one staff member to install a graywater irrigation system at Liberty Children’s Home in Ladyville. Liberty is an orphanage that currently houses 28 children who were abandoned, abused, or afflicted with HIV from the ages of four to 14 years old. They grow almost all their own fruits and vegetables – a water intensive endeavor. To become more sustainable, they requested assistance installing a system that would recycle their laundry water for use in their garden. This repurposes hundreds of gallons of water that before would have only been used once. More than just sustainability, this project also filled a real need for Liberty, as it is extremely expensive to pour so much domestic water into the ground daily.
The students were able to learn hands-on about hydraulics, plumbing, and the craft of mechanical projects from the trip leaders while working for a worthwhile cause. The PWOB team was joined by Belizean college students, who wanted to give back to the organization which allowed them to pursue a higher education. This gave the team a profound sense of solidarity with the community, and allowed them to experience authentic Belizean culture first-hand.
The experience was so rewarding that PWOB decided to return to Belize in 2012 to continue working with Liberty, a relationship we hope to foster for many years to come. To learn more about Liberty Children’s Home, please visit http://www.libertychildrenbelize.org/.