Rainwater Harvesting at Holy Cross

The new rainwater tank at Holy Cross Anglican School

For all those who spoke with Francis and Vernon, founders of Holy Cross Anglican School, you will know that they have long wanted to collect the abundant rainwater that San Mateo receives and use it in place of the much more expensive town water supply we currently use. Yet for a vision that sounds so simple, this one remained elusive... until now.

The full team - St Helena's, All Saints, Grace Church, Water Missions, Holy Cross.
Thanks to a huge collaborative effort, Holy Cross is delighted to be a recipient of a rainwater storage and purification system from the Belize Chapter of Water Missions International. This system collects water from the roof our our new toilet block, feeds it into a 10,000L (2,640 Gallon) storage tank, then an attached system purifies the water, removing any bacteria and contamination so the water is safe for drinking. This purified water is stored in a smaller tank then pumped to the kitchens as needed for drinking and cleaning. The system is amazing - completely self contained and runs by gravity and solar operated pumps so there is no ongoing cost to the school. We hope that this system can supply the total water need of the school for at least 6 months a year, hopefully more. WOW!!!

But the gift of water was only part of the gift Water Missions International gave the school and the community. Each day the team was here, they ran activities in San Mateo, either announcing the project, doing health and hygiene classes with the children, doing classes with the women and also celebrating the installation of the system. Throughout these activities they shared a simple yet powerful gospel message - just as water is life, Jesus is the living water that gives us life. Just as water needs to be filtered to removed contamination, so too Jesus died on the cross to remove the contamination of sin from our lives. They prayed with the community, shared stories, encouraged and celebrated.
Health and hygiene training in the school cafeteria

One of the things that made this project special was the  way many groups came together to make the project possible. The project was made possible by Grace Church, Yorktown, Virginia who had visited the school a year ago with a team and were moved the the water situation in San Mateo and the school. They began exploring options and discovered Water Missions Belize, who were able to provide the expert staff and design for this project. Also partnering with the project was St Helena’s, Beaufort,  South Carolina who also had a partner relationship with All Saints in Belize City. It may sound confusing but bringing this diverse group together was incredible, especially seeing the Belizean youth partnering with the American youth and realizing they were capable of making change in their own country. 
Community celebration - fun songs with the local children

A huge thank you to all who made this possible for Holy Cross School. We are truly thankful and humbled by your generosity.

Volunteers Making a Difference

Once again Holy Cross were blessed by the presence of teams of volunteers over the summer. Some were new teams, here for the first time, while others were those who had partnered with us for many years. It was a wonderful time as old friendships were renewed, new friendships made and people from all over the USA came together with a common purpose of helping the children of Belize.

A central part of the vision of Holy Cross is to form long term partnerships with churches and schools, whereby volunteers can experience the joy that comes with giving back to a community, witness a little of the poverty that the majority of the world's children live in, then become motivated to support long term, sustainable change.

Teams this summer included:
GINGER & TONY ROGERS, two incredible individuals who have worked with us for several summers. Ginger once again did a wonderful job of setting up and running a summer school for our std 5 children (7th grade), helping with reading difficulties and getting them ready for their final year of primary schooling.  Tony is an incredible handyman who can do anything asked of him and his presence was a wonderful support for our team this year.

EASTERN SHORE CHAPEL, long time supporters of the school who regularly send a group of skilled carpenters as well as well rounded team members of all ages. This year they replaced railings, built a gate and completed fencing for our playground, helped add fill to our playground and gave superb assistance to our summer school. Go Team!
New railing gets a coat of paint

CHURCH OF ST PETER & PAUL, a first time team to Holy Cross but very experienced yet youthful missioners. They did an incredible job of painting classrooms, and in just 5 days painted 6 classrooms, one hall and one mural, all in our infant school. THANK YOU - the teachers are going to be so happy to see their classrooms looking almost brand new. 
The inspiring mural for our K-2nd graders

ST THOMAS EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND SCHOOL also blessed us with a group of youthful yet very capable missioners, who delighted the children of San Mateo by running a fun and energetic Vacation Bible School. The children loved hearing about Jesus, while also doing simple crafts and playing fun games. The group also helped by painting classrooms and assisting in the summer school. What a blessing!
Local children loving VBS
Local boy loving the music and attention

A group of regular vacationers to San Pedro from Winterset Community Church were also first time volunteers at the school. The leaders of the group had been vacationing here for years and came in for a visit earlier in the year. When they heard we needed skilled volunteers they were excited by the opportunity to give a little back to Belize. They came back with a group of friends, spent their mornings working hard building gates, shelves, painting, assisting with summer school and vacation bible school. And, they had so much fun doing it they can't wait to come back!

Mary Ellen, a sewing teacher from Connecticut spent a week helping in our sewing center, providing great support for our wonderful sewing ladies. She was able to offer some great tips and hints for making the uniforms, maintaining the machines and really encouraged our sewing ladies. She was very impressed at what our group had been able to achieve as large self taught learners in such a short time. Thank you!

A group of Park Scholars from North Carolina State University returned for their second year. With great energy and enthusiasm they painted more classrooms (did I mention we have a lot of classrooms?). They also began a project they hope to continue for many years to come - photographing every home in San Mateo to provide a record of change over time.  PLEASE - if you have a good collection of photos of San Mateo from previous years, email me at volunteerbelize@gmail.com and I can put you in touch with these volunteers.

A diverse group from Grace Church, Virginia; St Helena's, South Carolina; All Saints, Belize City; and Water Missions international built us a fantastic rainwater harvesting system. This is such a good story I've told in in a separate entry. 

Now that's a large tank!
The Canterbury Society of William and Mary in Virginia, who are wonderful supporters of the school have begun an informal tradition (if there is such a thing) of sending individual students for an extended period of time over the summer. God is good and often who ever they send has just the right skills. This summer, Jacob has been a huge blessing to the school working on computers, assisting with teams and lending his creative design skills to a couple of very interesting projects that I hope to unveil soon (no peeking... it's a surprise!)

Finally, and certainly not least, St Matthew's  School and Transfiguration Church  will come as part of their annual trip to San Pedro where they will teach the local children how to swim (an important skill on a tropical island), as well as helping our school with the final touches of much needed paint. 

Wow - what a huge effort on the part of so many.  But you have all been an important part of keeping our 'little' school in San Mateo open to the children of Sam Pedro. Thank you all for your help. We know you have all learned so much just by being here an experiencing Belize and our prayer is that this experience will encourage you to greater things in your Christian journey. As a wise person once told me "a mind once expanded can never contract".

If you are interested in sending a volunteer team over the coming year - such a spring break or summer or even mid year, please contact us at volunteerbelize@gmail.com to find out more information. There is always something for you to do.

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