Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Background information on the BELIZE DEVELOPMENT TRUST 25 years of Community Development at the national level.

The Belize Development Trust does not deal in money. It is a volunteer trust, that has done plenty to develop Belize, at peoples own expense, materials and time and labor. No money is involved with the TRUST and it has no bank accounts. Much to the chagrin of the government. I myself have spent thousands of dollars on projects, not counting the cost of my labor, over the many years we have done development work in and for Belize. Been going for many years, going back to the late 1980s. Most recent project was the 3 year research on vegetable growing in Belize, which culminated in a book, that I printed myself at Angelus Press, and ran me $700 in actual cash outlay. Again not counting my labor. Many volunteers contributed the seeds needed. That book, was liked by the Cabinets of both political parties and was instrumental in change of attitudes at the political level to the then skeleton staffed and skeleton budgeted Agriculture Department and the copies that went to FAO in Italy, resulted in much financing for the Agriculture Department in new technology the project introduced into Belize and publicized. The Agriculture department was subsequently able to write GRANTS that resulted in a lot of foreign GRANT paid technical projects, with the new information, on irrigation and results of greenhouse research we did, that supplemented the small budget they had. Our function was to instigate change, solely by practical EXAMPLE, not rhetoric. This is a slow process of years involved and for the most part is hidden, as people adjusted their attitudes and actions based on what we did.

One project the political project, that tackled at the time in the 1980´s the problem of political victimization, during a time of FEAR in the community, to say anything, against either red or blue, political parties, depending on your persuasion, has resulted through internet education and newspapers into the more open society that we enjoy in Belize today. All these TALK SHOWS could not have existed 25 years ago. People were plain afraid. Nowadays our society is more open, and while political persecution has not totally died, it is no longer feared either. A BIG CHANGE in the attitudes of the average citizen. All done by public confrontation and using loud outspoken criticism with political fear held by most citizens at one time, in daring to say anything critical of the government. Nowadays, it is so common to hear the many critics in the public forums, that the new generation do not know how this CLIMATE FREE of FEAR started. It started with the Belize Development Trust, mostly on the internet some 20 plus years ago. That project was long term dealing with generations of people as new ones were born.

There have been many projects. Hurricane weather reporting and assistance donations was another. Nowadays done as a normal affair, particularly since the new NEMO has become reasonably established and confident. That project was done by example and embarrassment of public operations, deliberately. We did not criticize the lack of government functions, but simply did it on our own and publicized our own successes, which were later and slowly taken over by pro-active politicians and bureaucrats, who were basically shamed into performing. Our group of volunteers did what the government of the day should have been doing and did not. Now they do!

The Belize Development Trust has always been a DEVELOPMENT TRUST dealing with national projects. Supported at the beginning by about 200 people volunteers. We are no longer active, because the government passed a law that we have to register, but when we tried, the cost was $250 at the time, some years ago. I would have contributed $25, but that at the time was my ceiling. Companies registration in Belmopan would not accept that fee. When we tried at the registry, they in turn wanted $250. When Immigration people wanted a volunteer of ours, to have papers, they asked that the Belize Development Trust be registered also. However, the senior bureaucrat was unwilling to finance, or donate the cost of such registration. Since we had no funding source, it was impossible. I certainly wasn´t going to pay for it. Subsequently all projects in the TRUST name, have died more or less. We are afraid of bureaucratic FINES. So we ended the formal operations.

Volunteers are still active, just silent participants for the most part. We still work together for the National good, and contribute each according to their interest and means. Just not any longer in the name of the Belize Development Trust. Which as a formal institution is now defunct.

Much of our development work is done today, quietly and surreptiously, using my BLOG, WESTERNBELIZEHAPPENINGS. Trying to instigate change and improvement, through education, example, suggestion and knowledge. It seems to be working? Not always successfully, but there have been some changes. Many long term volunteers contribute useful articles and information, which eventually is picked up and acted on by the bureaucracy in Belmopan. In the end, they must ACT and do things. We cannot do it for them.

No comments: