Peace Corps was invited to serve in Belize – then British Honduras – in 1962. Since then,nearly 1,800 volunteers have served in Belize. Throughout this time, there has been close cooperation and friendship between volunteers and the Belizean people with whom they have worked.
Peace Corps/Belize worked in collaboration with the Government of Belize, non-government organizations, and community-based organizations. The first volunteers worked primarily as classroom teachers, but more recent volunteers have worked as teacher trainers, health educators, rural community development workers, secondary school teachers, vocational educators, sports/PE coordinators, environmental educators, agricultural specialists, marine biologists, archaeologists, youth organizers and HIV/AIDS prevention and education coordinators.
Peace Corps volunteers have left permanent marks through their service in Belize. To mention a few:
- A Peace Corps volunteer started the Lynn School for mentallyhandicapped children, which later became part of the Stella Maris School.
- Belize’s strong 4H program got a helpful start through the work of Peace Corps volunteers and has grown into a country-wide program.
- With shovels and hand tools, Peace Corps volunteers built school buildings and teachers’ houses in remote Toledo Mayan villages where no construction equipment could reach.
- Volunteers working with the National Sports Council helped to launch the first Special Olympics, the Belize Games, Bike and Hike, and the Fun Run.
- Working with the International Rescue Committee, volunteers in refugee villages have built more than 35 water tanks and latrines, and more than 40 schools and community centers.
- Peace Corps volunteers assisted with the development of Guanacaste National Park, which was subsequently dedicated in their honor.
- Youth volunteers assisted in the establishment and strengthening of programs at the National Organization for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NOPCAN).
- Peace Corps volunteers assisted with the training of teachers, the development of the new comprehensive curriculum and establishment of the Ministry of Education Information Technology project. So far over 1,000 teachers have received training in computer skills.
- IT technicians have established a training curriculum in troubleshooting, maintenance and computer repair for the Center for Employment Training students.
Starting in 2013, Peace Corps Belize unveiled a new program that focuses specifically on health in rural communities. Peace Corps’ new Rural Family Health Program (RFHP) is a five year initiative that mainly targets Maternal, Neonatal, & Child Health along with Non-Communicable Diseases. Some of key changes brought about by this new program:
- Volunteers are living in rural villages with host families for the entirety of their 2 years in country.
- Volunteers work alongside HECOPAB’s Community Health Workers to achieve better health status in regard to the two main goals.
- The amount of volunteers brought in each year has decreased to ensure a higher efficiency of work.
For more information about the Peace Corps and their work in Belize, please visit the Peace Corps website.
The Peace Corps Act
To promote world peace and friendship, the government of the United States of Amercia will make available to interested countries and areas, men and women of the United States, qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower, particularly in meeting the basic needs of those living in the poorest areas of such countries, and to help promote a better understanding of the American people on the part of the peoples served and a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people.
Goals of the Peace Corps
The Peace Corps was established in 1961. Currently there are more than 8,000 Volunteers abroad and since its founding more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served.
- To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of peoples served.
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.