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Volunteer Belize

Belize History in the Making


This is a very interesting and important time in the history of Ambergris Caye and Belize -  last night Heather Cathy and I literally ‘shot the shit’ and had a great brainstorming session. They told me all about their day and by the end of our chat  we had filled in a couple of new puzzle pieces for Direct Abundance Belize.

Heather and Cathy went to the school today – met with Vernon and Eric and walked through to the back of  San Mateo. They had both been to this area before and agreed that going further back and walking the London bridges was a high impact moment – especially after stopping to watch a  young girl run with confidence and ease along the narrow planks of wood.

After hearing Heathers plans – Vernon gave a two thumbs up for having a waste water garden at the school to go along with their new state of the art composting flush toilets. The school is also willing to help Direct abundance in carrying out the fantastic plan Heather has come up with to do phase one of basic composting toilets for all residents in  San Mateo. The school will donate lumber towards the project as well as use of tools and work space to the community so the structures for the compost toilets can be built. They recognize how invaluable this project is to clean up the neighborhood from the ground on up.  Tim Tam from the Word at Work ministries is also on board with the idea and he is already making plans to help Direct Abundance move forward on this idea and a seed has been planted for getting composting toilets happening  on mainland Belize areas in need. With over 1/3 of Belize’s land being protected this whole project will be huge and far reaching to keep Belize Green.

While on their tour yesterday Veron and Eric took them to meet Shirley who was featured in Travis’s Current tv documentary on San Mateo and Holy Cross – she has agreed to be one of the first houses to get up and running with a composting toilet.  Heather is hoping to get a few model units on the go asap so that she can see what they are dealing with in preparation for a mass build. [note to self email Travis and tell him the good news].

Saving the best for last out of all this came the idea [which ties right back to Joanne and Heather’s work back in January doing United Against Abuse workshops on the mainland and here at the Lions club San Pedro] – Self Sustaining Women’s Shelters in every district in Belize. How cool is that.

This is only the start too there is a whole other couple of chapters I did not mention yet that include solar power and water purification systems too. Can you believe it is only day 2 of their volunteer vacation and they got that much of the puzzle pieces fit together so far? Well done girls.

Today Heather and Cathy are taking a vacation day. Plan was to go to Caye Caulker but the thunder and rain that greeted us this morning making everyone rethink that idea. Will go for lunch in a bit and hook up with Heather Cathy and Vernon at Banana Beach Resort – more brainstorming. It keeps getting better – just got facebooked by Coleen [perk] who used to be in waste management and is very into gardening – waste water garden idea and Preserving Belize is in town visiting a friend at Banyan Bay and will meet us at El Divino at 11 to join the brainstorming on this. Makes perfect sense why Mother Nature rained us out – she likes what we are up to and is helping us connect the dots and get the right people in place to make it happen.

Thursday is a busy day starting out with the morning show then meeting with the Waste Water Gardens rep/Planetary Coral foundation – health inspector – building inspector and building inspector for a tour of San Mateo and the new composting system at Holy Cross.

If this kind of thing is of interest to you then check out this website I got from Changes in Latitudes this morning for the  Belize Sustainable Tourism Program. The girls both realize how important this all is and how we need to take better care of everyone and everything that is Belize.

Back later with some pictures and update on today’s meeting.

Still unclear on where to start so I decided to clear emails first and then I came across Heather’s and decided that the start of her email would help finish my post

It’s official Coleen is all in on this project and I could not think of a better person to be a liason for Heather on the island. We talked about so much amazing stuff that I do not even know where to begin writing. Better use of my time to take a snack break and see what is on tv – this way I can let my thoughts unwind in preparation for reviewing my notes. See you in a bit.

Finishing off my post with the start of Heathers update email…


That is totally AWESOME!! I am so happy for you!!

Today we met with Coleen Creedon. She has agreed to be on DirectAbundance as a WWG consultant!!!!!!! WOOOO HOOO!! We now have a local that is a water and sanitation expert!! With a passion towards the environment and WWG’s!!! I’m way past the moon at this point!! my feet aren’t even touching the ground!!

Heather Zwicker

There was much exciting talk at the lunch table today and I learned a lot of interesting things and figured I would share some of the wide range of what we covered….

There is a special paint that protects the internal points of wind turbines against salt air. When building in the tropics it is important to consider things like this to help structures last.

Texas ATM University developed a system that can make 245 gallons of distilled water  a day and uses 1 1/0 the power of a desalinization system. Cost $800 – $900 usd.

A couple of years back -  Jamaica was giving interest free loans and tax incentives to homeowners who were willing to upgrade to solar power. This movement created a need for skilled training and opened up a new work option. Ding Ding

There is a community near Playa Del Carmen that has about 40 homes doing waste water gardens for the last 10 years.

Do not underestimate bugs like termites and the effects of weather when building structures here.

One thing was clear from our meeting the puzzle pieces are rapidly fitting together – Holy Cross School and San Mateo are turning into a great model community with a school.  I can’t even begin to describe what it is like to watch San Mateo turning into an eco friendly sustainable community.

Afterward we dropped Coleen at the dock to catch her boat home then we did a quick visit to Xanadu Resort so the girls could meet Martin. Xanadu is Green Globe Certified and is already practicing some very cool stuff to help leave less of a footprint.  I knew Martin would be interested in what is happening – he offered to help out along the way if he could.

San Pedro Belize

El Divino - Banana Beach Resort

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  1. Joanne O'Brien August 25, 2010

    Sitting back here in Canada, tears flow from my eyes. I am so happy that all this has come together. heather has done so much hard work, and planning, and just as intended it has evolved wonderfully! I cant wait to come down and see all the progress in action. Congrats! Love you all!

  2. tacogirl August 25, 2010

    It is amazing what is transpiring and how fast the dots are connecting.You will be getting your hands dirty come lobsterfest when you bring your volunteer group down Maureen.

  3. Maureen August 25, 2010

    I am in awe of these women and am very proud to say I have met them! My only wish was I could be more hands on to help with the dirty work.


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