International Chair Jack Wallace led a group of four West U Rotarians to Belize City to look at projects for our consideration.
 
Jack has already sent computers, books, wheelchairs and ambulances there so he has a history of helping people there.   Greg, Carol, Richard and Past AG Patrick Lesley from the Bellaire Club met his Belizean Rotary friends, Cisco, and Cisco’s dad, John Woods.   Both these gentlemen are living saints.  In your entire lifetime you might meet just a handful of people like them.  You know you are in the presence of someone special and you hope some of their goodness rubs off on you.
 
John Woods took us on a tour of a prison that his private foundation runs at the behest of the government. Under his leadership, what was once a hellhole of gang violence is now a place where inmates are treated with dignity…perhaps for the first time in their lives.  Inmates hear uplifting messages broadcast over the prison radio station all day.  We Houstonians smiled at learning that twice a day they hear from our town’s Joel Osteen.   Inmates garden, build tiny houses for needy families, craft wood coffins and more.  Twelve step meetings are held daily. It was clear that lives were being transformed at this prison.
 
       
 
We also visited St. Martin de Porres School run by a Jesuit priest, Father Matt.   Virtually all of his young students have lost a family member to drug violence.   A visiting psychologist diagnosed most of the kids as suffering PTSD, leading to aggression, ADD, and depression.    The school is the only safe place for many.  One boy was found sleeping on the roofs of the buildings to avoid going home.   Father Matt asked us to help fund the school feeding program for the next year.  For many this is all they will get to eat.   Without these meals, learning would be impossible. 
 

We also visited a handicapped mother of four, including a disabled son, who received her wheelchair and a new tiny home from Cisco’s Rotary club.  From there we visited another young mother in need of a decent home for her small family to replace the “house” they live in now.  We hope to help with that. 
 
Many people work hard at NOT seeing the things we saw.  But not us.   Not Rotarians.   Consider going to Belize the next time Jack asks.   You won’t regret it nor forget it.
 
 
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