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Ignacio Volunteers: Belize Summer Camp
The Ignacio Volunteer "Umadagu Lesceulana" summer camp in Belize was started in 1989 by Fr. Ted Dziak, SJ, and has been held sixteen times in the last nineteen years. Students from Boston College, Georgetown and St. George's College (in Jamaica) have served as teachers/coaches and Team Leaders over the years. Last August, twelve Loyola NO students participated in this program. It is a well-known camp in the country.Classes are held each morning at Sacred Heart School from 8:30am to 11:30am, then after a lunch break, with sporting activities from 1:30pm to 3:00pm. Subject areas taught include Arts & Crafts, Reading & Writing, and Math. Lots of hands-on interactive activity. Afternoon sports include basketball, volleyball and football (soccer) and children's games for the youngest kids. Ten local Garifuna young people will pair off with the ten Loyola students, so that each classroom will have two 'co-teachers.' Fr. Ted Dziak, SJ will travel with the group and serve as director of the program, along with Gwen Garcia, who is a teacher in the local high school.
The Program Calendar
The program is a three week (24 day) immersion experience, departing New Orleans Sunday, July 20 and returning to New Orleans on Monday, August 10, 2009. The camp itself is two-weeks (ten days). However, before the camp begins, the group will have an opportunity to experience the country of Belize, a land of rain forests, Mayan ruins, cayes (islands), waterfalls, jaguars and wonderful people. The weekend between the two weeks of the camp is a trip to one of the local islands (cayes) off the coast for a little rest & relaxation. There will also be an opportunity for a couple of days or relaxation and debriefing at a local caye at the end of the camp.
Umadagu Lesceulana summer camp is located in the town of Dangriga. Dangriga is located on the Caribbean coast and is the largest town in southern Belize. It is the cultural center of the Garífuna, a people of mixed indigenous Caribbean and African descent. The town has approximately 8,000 people and is the regional center of the Stann Creek district.
Belize is an underdeveloped underpopulated country (population 300,000) in Central America, located just below Mexico's Yucatan peninsula (five hours south of Cancun.) It is the only English-speaking country in Central America. Belize was a British colony for more than a century, known as British Honduras until 1973,when it became an independent nation in 1981. Belize has a large Mayan population in the south, which will be one of the places our group will visit. Much of the south of the country is rain forest, with large unexplored areas, and is a natural habitat for many animals (it has the largest jaguar population in the world.) Beautiful land!
The LoyNO volunteers will live in a community center called the 'Helpage' building, located right on the Caribbean Sea. The Garifuna co-teachers commute daily from their homes. The group sleeps on mats on the floor and eat meals together at the center. The Helpage has two bathrooms with one (cold-water) shower. There is little privacy and it will be a simple lifestyle. Weather will be hot also -- 90 degrees & above.
Participants are asked to raise $1,200 to cover the experience, which includes the plane ticket to Belize. Fundraising will be done by group and individuals. There are "Magis" grants available from the Jesuit Center to assist those who do not raise their full amount.