Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Belize, Part 1 -- Hand in Hand Ministries....

I often confuse the name of Hand in Hand Ministries. But I don't confuse the mission. On my recent trip to Belize I was exposed to the vital services they provide.

When Mark Thessing told me about Hand in Hand I was confused. They build and entire home for around $2000.00 USD in about one week with only 10-15 people. What? I have worked on plenty of Habitat for Humanity homes in Des Moines that take weeks, if not months to complete. How could this happen in Belize so quickly? I obviously wasn't living the culture. Homes in Belize are often basic. According to UNICEF only 47% of the country has adequate sanitation facilities and 82% of the population has improved drinking water sources. They live simple lives, often without running water or electricity. The homes Hand in Hand builds are like a storage shed to Americans.

I arrived at the work site early in the morning to meet a group of sisters from the Sisters of Charity. Led by Sr. Luke and Sr. Kitty they told me about how their group is full of rebels for people in need. We worked the morning on a house for an elderly woman who was living with her children. We we finished for the day (full of sunburn and heat) Ray and Bernie, the project supervisors, took me too see and meet some of the people that benefited from the Hand in Hand homes. They are often single women and the elderly who are out of range to obtain a Habitat for Humanity home. The homes I was able to see were well maintained and the people living in them were so grateful.

Completed Hand in Hand Home

Working on the Home

Finished Hand in Hand Home

The Finished Home I Helped to Build

Another group of under served are those with HIV and AIDS. Belize has the highest incidents of people with HIV and AIDS in Central America and the government often overlooks this group. According to statistics from UNICEF 2.5% of the population has known cases of HIV or AIDS. 3.7% of cases are transferred from mother to child because of the lack of drugs to treat the situation. The medication that the government provides hasn't been used in the United States for about 14 years and they haven't come up with the money to provide better care.

Hand in Hand started and HIV/AIDS clinic for kids who are effected or their parents are positive. The children at the center are beautiful; it was so difficult for me to walk in their shoes and understand why a government or society doesn't provide the care they need.

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Lindsey said...

Hi Nick, I was searching for Hand in Hand's website and came across yours...I actually happen to be in the group you have pictured (tan tank top) and my friend Alana is in the picture working on the house...we really appreciated your help! I hope you loved Belize as much as we did!


Kaylie said...

Oh, Thank you to Lindsey for forwarding this link to me. I too was there (pink shirt on top) and we enjoyed having you with us as you were a tremendous help building the house!

Have you been anywhere else lately?


Alana M said...

Hey Nick!

I feel so famous to have been pictured on your page! I'm the one in the green tank top trying to hammer a nail :)

Belize was an amazing experience for us. By the end of the trip we didn't want to leave.

I envy all the traveling you have done so far. Are you planning on going back to Belize any time soon?