As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, as part of the BCVI’s work in caring for the eye health of Belizeans, their rehab department runs a summer camp for blind and visually impaired children (and their guardians) from all over the country, for two weeks every July. There, they learn (and practice) everything from Braille to typing, as well as going on various excursions, from the museum to the zoo.
Due to the ongoing global economic situation of the last few years, funds for the camp (and also for the rest of the rehab department’s work, in fact for all of the BCVI’s activities) are lower than usual.
Enter Rowan Garel, the boy whose sponsored hike up Belize’s second-tallest mountain last spring raised enough money to make last summer’s camp possible.
For this year’s fundraising drive, Rowan and his family decided on another walk – this time across the whole country.
For five days they (plus an entourage of people accompanying them) walked from Benque Viejo del Carmen (on the border with Guatemala) the 92 miles (148 km) to Belize City (on the Caribbean Sea). Travelling the length of the Western Highway, they walked over the mountainous west of the country and on to the low-lying plains of the east, past Maya ruins, national parks, the country’s low-key capital Belmopan, and the zoo, arriving at the BCVI’s main office in Belize City in time for the opening of the camp on the first Monday.
The photos of the walk are on the BCVI’s Facebook page here.
After the two weeks of the camp (during which time I even managed to get myself interviewed on TV), the total amount donated was over BZ$70,000 – impressive, but still short of the target figure of BZ$90,000. So Rowan and his family thought up another fundraising walk (they clearly like walking!), this time across part of the island of Ambergris Caye, from the south to the main town of San Pedro.
I didn’t take part in the first walk (as I was at work, preparing to teach the blind kids some more computer skills). But I did go on the second one, forcing myself to get up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning (which is never a pleasant experience for me), and then walking for several hours in the tropical heat. At the end of the walk, the BCVI and the San Pedro Lions Club (part of Lions Clubs International, a charitable organisation similar to the Rotary Club) organised a barbecue and bar on the beach. And after a well-deserved barbecue chicken lunch and a few cold beers, I even managed to sell some commemorative T-Shirts too.
After totting up the donations from both walks, the total amount raised is now over BZ$80,000, a phenomenal amount in a middle-income country of 300,000 people in which a third of the population lives below the poverty line. The money not only pays for this year’s Summer Camp, but it will also cover the support for the majority of the children in the rehab programme for another year, and allows the BCVI to continue doing a vital job that no one else in Belize does.