We will spend our April vacation building a home for a family in Belize City, Belize as well as outreach focused on HIV/AIDS awareness
Though most of the materials for the home are purchased by the trip participants, the recipients must provide proof of ownership of their own land, assist with the building of their home and attend empowerment classes. The success of this program is overwhelming. In less than 10 years, more than 180 families, working with Hand in Hand volunteers, have put a roof over their heads and have begun a new life. Some have come to work for Hand in Hand, others have found employment through empowerment classes. Recipeints have also learned to give back to their community by assisting with other Hand in Hand building projects. It’s hard to believe a 16×16 wooden house could have such a big impact on a family – but it does.
Breaking the Stigma
One of the greatest challenges in Belize is fighting the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS. Very few parents even acknowledge the HIV status of their children and consequently, the essential path of treatment often is not followed. HHM recognized this roadblock and formed parent and adolescent support groups. Currently, eight girls, ages 10-13 now have a safe place to share their feelings about their HIV status and learn to prevent the disease from spreading.
As a result of both the Center for Children Marginalized by Poverty and Disease and the Mobile Outreach Program, Hand in Hand can point to some very positive statistics that are trending in the right direction:
• Since 2009, the program has reported a 50% reduction in hospitalizations for HIV-positive children
• 90% of known HIV-positive children in rural communities within the Belize district are served by Hand in Hand Ourtreach services;
• 60% of the known HIV positive adolsecents in Belize City participate in support group services
More Than Just Numbers
Hand in Hand’s presence in Belize has produced positive measurable, quantitative results; however, the underlying effects of our efforts are so much greater than the numbers. The people who we touch are provided with knowledge, medication, and nutritious meals, but they also receive hope; hope for a better future for themselves and their children.