NGO donations imperative for New Horizons completion
By Dialogo June 13, 2014
If not for donations from non-government organizations (NGO), four schools and one medical facility in Belize would be receiving empty new buildings.
The Midwest Mission Distribution Center (MMDC) and the Latter Day Saints Charities (LDSC) donated school supplies, classroom furniture and medical kits to New Horizons Belize 2014, a U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) exercise focusing on improving the joint training readiness of U.S. military members, partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities.
"We welcome working with NGOs - non-governmental organizations," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ricardo Gonzalez, Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché at the U.S. Military Liaison Office in Belize. "It's for the common good."
Combined with the efforts of SOUTHCOM’s Public Private Cooperation Division (J9) and the Department of Defense Humanitarian Assistance Program (J7), the MMDC and LDSC have helped make it possible for the school buildings and medical facility to open their doors.
"The New Horizons exercise builds the building, but the building is just a building without the people and the supplies that form the classroom," said Gonzalez. "In order for the teachers to teach their students, they need desks, they need chairs, they need the blackboards.
"They need those materials to make it possible for the students to be comfortable, pay attention, be able to write and read. Those are the critical things that, along with the building, make teaching possible," he added.
The MMDC donated nearly 22,000 pounds of tables, desks, chairs and bags; and the LDSC donated almost 12,000 pounds of school kits and emergency medical supplies.
For their part, Belizean bottling company Bowen & Bowen Ltd., donated much-needed water for patients and providers at the medical readiness training exercises.
"Bowen & Bowen Ltd. is pleased to partner with our friends from U.S. and Belize in their kind efforts to provide medical attention to the residents of several remote villages throughout Belize," said David Craig, Bowen & Bowen Ltd. commercial marketing manager.
The efforts of these NGOs are instrumental in assisting the schools with providing a valuable education to students of all ages, as the New Horizons construction sites encompass schools that cater to students from pre-school to high school. Their efforts will also aid with supplying quality medical care at the medical facility being constructed by New Horizons in Belmopan. A hospital in the northern Corozal district, as well as the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City received supplies donated by the organizations.
"We want a country that can look forward to the future and keep rising up," Gonzalez said. "All these parts helping out, working together is critical."
In total, more than 70,200 pounds worth approximately $135,500 was donated to the New Horizons Belize 2014 beneficiaries to fill the classrooms, administrative offices and patient care rooms.
This year, New Horizons took place from April through June in the Corozal region of Belize to offer Belizean, Canadian and U.S. professionals a valuable training opportunity in civil engineering and medical care. Belizean and military medical providers are using the MEDRETES as an opportunity to learn from one another as they provide medical care to residents out of schools in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.
SOUTHCOM’s Public Private Cooperation Division (J9) and Humanitarian Assistance Program (J7) were integral in coordinating to make it all happen.