We are writing this third message to you in the midst of racial struggle in the United States and continued concerns with COVID-19 virus protection and spread in Belize. Three of the Holy Cross Foundation Board live in the Minneapolis area, so the tensions in that city have been very personal. This has caused us to reflect as a group on the diversity in Belize and especially at Holy Cross School where children of many racial and ethnic backgrounds learn and play together. That is not to pretend that racial strife does not exist in Belize but one needs only to look at a photo of our students to see the diversity exhibited in the faces of our children. “Red and yellow, black and white (and brown) they are precious in His sight. “
The Belizean flag depicts both a Mestizo and an Afro-Belizean man standing together beneath the mahogany tree demonstrating the commitment of the Belizean government to honor diversity. We respect this prominent display of unity and know that each of our lives has been enriched by the opportunities that we have had to work alongside the principals, teachers and staff and enjoy the hugs and smiles of the children at Holy Cross.
In the past week Belize has identified two new cases of COVID-19; one a Belizean cruise ship employee who was asymptomatic but tested positive when coming out of quarantine and a second person who entered the country illegally by crossing the southern border near Punta Gorda. Limited flights and water taxi access have kept San Pedro COVID free for the time being. Thanks be to God! As of this writing the ban on international travelers remains in force. We are anxious to welcome you all back to the Holy Cross when it is safe to do so.
A plan for reopening
The Ministry of Education recently issued a plan for reopening the Belizean schools. This includes teachers reporting for duty on August 3rd with students following on the 10th. This early start is intended to help teachers and students close the learning gap caused by the shortened school year. There is a huge amount of planning required to keep students and teachers safe. Mr. Freddy is in the process of installing additional basins for hand washing. Just as in the US, many questions remain: Will students and teachers be required to wear masks? Is there hand soap or hand sanitizer available in San Pedro? How do you keep young children at a safe social distance from one another within a classroom? Who will be responsible for sanitizing the classroom space? Will children be allowed to use the playground? How do we manage the lunch room/cafeteria sanitation? And so many more; it can be daunting!
Your opportunity to help
As we look toward the restart of the school year the need for school supplies and shoes, items normally brought by mission teams, will be significant. Many of our students depend on the generosity of folks like you for their shoes, school bag and basic school supplies. Many of these items are usually brought by mission teams but, unfortunately, not this year. We estimate the average cost of these items to be: shoes: $25 to $50US; back pack: $25 to $35US; school supplies: $25US. This year there is also need for
additional hand soap or sanitizer, paper towels and cleaning supplies. As the San Pedro Post Office remains closed and the mail service is unreliable even without COVID restrictions, a donation to the Holy Cross Education Foundation (hcefoundation.org) is the most efficient way to get funds for these much-needed items to the school. 100% of gifts benefit Holy Cross and the students.
We want you to know that as a Board we believe that we are involved with Holy Cross with God’s leadership and we will not abandon that call. We pray that you will continue to be on this journey with us and hold the Holy Cross students and staff in your prayers. Together, and with God’s grace, we will come through these difficult times with renewed focus and resolve.
With our deep gratitude,
Brian Ostenso, Board Chair, Minnesota
Jim Bizal, Minnesota; Bob Frady, Virginia; Suzanne Kent, Texas; Jan Lamb, N. Carolina; John McHenry, N. Carolina; Richard and Cindy Shaffer, Ohio; Lonni Skrentner, Minnesota and Belize; Francis and Vernon Wilson, Panama