In 2010, Presbyterian Self-Development of People selected Belize as a focus country as a part of the new international funding strategy. After the first visits to the country, in 2011 SDOP decided to work with grassroots’ communities located in the southern part of the country because of the precarious conditions and poverty in this region.
Since then, the International Task Force members and staff have worked and continue working to build relationship with communities in Stann Creek and Toledo Districts. These are mainly Mayan and Garifuna (descendants of Caribbean Indians and African slaves) communities. We have conducted numerous workshops in different cities such as Belize City, San Antonio, Belmopan, Dangriga, Seine Bight, Placencia, Punta Gorda, and San Ignacio. We have visited many Mayan villages and visited several community groups.
In this work we have been assisted by several partners in the country such as U.S. Peace Corp volunteers, community organizers, church leaders, and officers from the Department of Cooperative and Agriculture. The Belize Department of Cooperatives is one of the main partners that has helped us to know the communities in need, helped the groups with the funding process, helped the communications between the groups and us, etc. This collaboration is highly appreciated on our part because the groups funded have achieved their goals and are seeing drastic changes in their lives and in their communities.
We have established partnerships with 11 grassroots groups in Belize. Below is a listing of all of the groups we have funded in Belize, including their names, location, amount funded, description of their grants, and group pictures.
Hopkins Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd, Hopkins Village
A group of farmers from the Hopkins Village area of Belize have come together to form a co-op with the intent of manufacturing cereal from locally produced grains.
Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative Society Limited, Hopkins Village
Two grants, $20,050 and $22,500
Started in 1984, this is the oldest Garifuna women owned cooperative in Belize. They are working to re-build their hotel which was destroyed twice by fire. The SDOP grant will enable them to complete their facility used for meetings, catering, and selling lunches. Additional funds were approved later for the purchase of an additional cabaña, extension of kitchen facilities and developing proper marketing strategies to effectively market the cooperative business owned and operated by this group of indigenous Garifuna women.
Marigold Women’s Group, Toledo District
This group of indigenous Mayan women has started a local roadside restaurant which creates employment for the members and improves the community.
Rio Grande Fisherman Cooperative, Punta Gorda
The grant to the fishermen cooperative was to expand the group’s facility that would allow them to store sea cucumbers before exporting to China and to have a larger area to clean fish and be able to display for sale to their Punta Gorda customers.
Placencia Tour Guide Cooperative, Placencia
This group of local tour guide operators is trying to survive with the influx of resort and cruise ship tour guides coming into the community. The funds will be used for technical assistance to cover capacity building, transportation, rent and office equipment.
Maya Freshwater Cooperative, near Punta Gorda
Through our partnership this rural community group has been able to build a two room cement building that will house a small store and a computer lab for the community. The building will also serve as a hurricane shelter.
Seine Bight Village Council, Seine Bight Village
The grant will assist this indigenous community in revitalizing its village through painting blighted homes, installing speed humps to slow traffic and restoring a local reservoir. Group members will install signage and educate the community about health, safety and unity as first steps toward attracting and benefitting from the burgeoning tourist industry in the region.
Trio Farmers in Development Pre-Cop, Trio Village
This grant will enable farmers of this cooperative to try new methods of growing seedlings in “tunnels” that will improve the yield of their crops.
El Paraiso Agriculture Cooperatives Society Ltd, Bella Vista Village
This group 0f 72 active members realized their crops and the crops of their farmers in the area were being poorly marketed. To alleviate this problem they are establishing a distribution center for local produce. The partnership with SDOP will assist in the construction of the center.
Maskall Agriculture Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited
The construction of facility that meets the Pesticides Control Board criteria for the storage, distribution, and sale of agro-chemical, animal feed, hardware, etc. to replace a small wood/zinc building the control board deemed unsafe and unusable for the intended purpose.
Los pequeños Agricultores y Ganaderos (Small Farmers and Ranchers) of Nago Bank Cooperative Society Ltd.
Building a Central depot that will allow buyers to purchase farm harvest from the group as a whole. The depot will also serve as a central meeting space for the cooperative members.
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Categories: Advocacy & Social Justice
Tags: Belize, SDOP
Ministries: Presbyterian Committee on the Self–Development of People