||Winter Bulletin 2008
Vol. 24 No.4
When Plenty Belize officially launched in 1997, a handful of Plenty US staff and volunteers worked with members of Mayan grassroots groups like the Toledo Ecotourism Association, farmer’s groups, and the Fajina crafts cooperative – people whose purpose was to make a sustainable living without harming their local rainforest. While Plenty Belize’s basic purpose has stayed the same over the years, it has evolved to better meet the needs of the Toledo District. Directed and staffed by Belizeans, its scope of activities and partnerships has expanded greatly.
Here’s a summary of what Plenty Belize does now:
Students of the Punta Gorda Methodist School
work in their school garden
Organic Farming Promotion
From the Plenty Belize newsletter: “Our ancestors had a healthy life. Our generation is now suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other related health issues. Organic farming promotes healthier life and a longer life. Our ancestors did not have a mindset to go to a farmer’s depot to purchase seeds, fertilizers, insecticide or fungicides – they produced everything they needed. Today our mind set is the opposite. We are just looking for the fast and easy way out, but this is what is causing our health problems and is shortening our lives. Honor Our Ancestors! Go Organic!”
Garden-based Agriculture for Toledo’s Environment (GATE)
Thirty-four schools are active in the GATE program, which supports organic food gardens and Garden Based Learning, including integrating gardening with math, science and English, health and nutrition, and food security and sovereignty. An adjunct project supports 20 students and their families from four villages, who grow home gardens.
School Feeding Program
Plenty Belize is a founding member of the Toledo School Feeding Program Committee, whose members say “Hungry children do not learn well!” Plenty Belize has provided funding and assistance to outfit kitchens with equipment and utensils. It is also a key organizer for the annual Toledo Food Fair, the next one slated for March 2009.
Participants and facilitators in the Sixth Micro-Enterprise Planning Workshop at the Small Business Resource Center in Punta Gorda Town, Belize.
The Small Business Resource Center (SBRC)
With support from the European Union and the Government of Belize, Plenty Belize opened the Small Business Resource Center at its office in Punta Gorda. The SBRC provides training and support for grant recipients through the Micro Grant for Poor Families Program (MGPFP) and through the Enterprise Engine for Rural Toledo Program. Since the inception of the MGPFP in May Plenty Belize has received over 100 applications for 60 available grants, and is prioritizing applications from single parents, persons with disabilities, and persons living with and supporting persons with disabilities.
Plenty Belize has long promoted solar power for remote communities. It sells solar equipment and assists with system design and installations, the latest at Rio Blanco National Park (RBNP) in western Toledo District. Due to all-too-frequent power outages, Plenty Belize has installed a solar powered back-up system at its office. Whenever grid power is off, a battery based system automatically provides AC power to computers, fans, and lights, which is a great demonstration project for visitors.
Plenty Belize is an active member of Women’s Issues Network(WIN Belize). WIN’s main focus this year is the Annual Torch Run that takes place throughout the country to raise awareness about Gender Based Violence and HIV and AIDS. Plenty Belize is also proud to be an active member of the Program for Toledo Children and Adolescents (TOLCA). TOLCA is a network of 14 organizations that promote the well-being of women, children, and adolescents. Through TOLCA, member agencies have assisted with school gardens, nutrition training, parenting training, women’s leadership development, school playgrounds and toilets, hygiene training, pre-schools, and much more. Plenty Belize will assist TOLCA and the Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR) in conducting an assessment of all registered villages in Toledo, to more effectively plan and implement projects that will make a difference in the lives of local people.
Kids having fun in the mud
The new Plenty Belize Board
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