(This is the first in a series of postings for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday from here on “The Other Side of Paradise” in Belize, designed to help you count your Thanksgiving blessings.)
What follows is a report from the Belizean online newspaper Patrick Jones.com:
The quest for a secondary school education is a daily struggle for children in remote parts of the Toledo district.
As evidenced by pictures obtained today, students from Jalacte village have to walk miles through mud and water to get from their village to where they can catch a school bus to take them into town.
And it is not only Jalacte village where the road is in dire need of fixing.
Many of the other villages also suffer the same problems including Crique Sarco and San Vicente.
Some of these children, about 50 or 60 of them, attend either the Toledo Community College of the Julian Cho Technical High School.
They have to be up at 4 am in some cases to get ready and make the difficult journey from their village to make it out to town for classes.
And when the day is done, they have to retrace their steps to get back home.
Then 8 hours later, they have to repeat the process all over again.
Former students tell of a similar ordeal they had to endure, and it is a situation that continues to this day.
Some of the roads to some of the rural Toledo villages are so bad that some days the students arrive at school late or some don’t make it to classes at all.
It is a sacrifice that continues to be made as the boys and girls aspire to gain an education in order to improve their lives and contribute positively to their communities.
What goes unmentioned is that students in Belizean schools are required to wear uniforms, which poses an enormous burden on many parents all over the country to keep those clothes cleaned. It’s very common for there to be at least four children attending school, and most poor kids never get beyond “Standard Six”–the grade for kids 13 or so. (Many fail and repeat grades two and three times.)
Most Belizeans have small, affordable Belizean-made washing machines, but not even many middle-class people have dryers because the price of electricity runs through the roof with good, American-made dryers even if you can afford one (and air conditioning, which is rare in Belizean homes, also runs the bill up). And then there are the many with no electricity–many people in large neighborhoods villages surrounding the big twin towns San Ignacio/Santa Elena, where I live, have no electricity.
So one sees clothes hanging constantly on clothes lines (including my own, since I have no dryer) everywhere in this developing country.
So considering all that, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?