This morning we visited the only prison in Belize. We spent some time in the youth unit there. It was a really interesting experience. After going, in the JVI there, Johnny gave us a tour of the unit. They have 2 dorms, a mess hall, 3 small classrooms and new computer lab (with really old computers) and a large field in the middle. In Belize you are guilty until proven innocent so a lot of guys are in there until their trials. I spoke with a 16 year old Mayan kid, Aldolfo, from Jalacte (in the Toledo District) who was in for a third time with attempted murder whose court date is next week. He was a good kid who gets angry when he drinks (hence his trouble and some nasty scars on his arm from a knife fight). He plays forward in soccer and was in Form 2 (sophomore year). He hopes to get out and finish High School and then go to university. Some of the staff in the youth unit are prisoners from the adult section. They sleep in the dorms with the boys and teach them different classes.
Another guy I talked to was Ronald, a principal, who got in trouble with vanity and envy. He started stealing when he couldn’t get what he wanted. He was 18 months done with a 2 year sentence. He teaches literacy and math to the boys. It was a really eye opening experience for the boys and me. It was a good reminder that these are people who for the most part just made a mistake (and while this is a realization I came to over the past year anyway in my life it is always good to have a reminder about it).
This afternoon we went to the house blessing for Frank. The house looks great (so great that someone tried to break in through the windows, but he had put nails in place to keep people like that out). Abel, his wife, Berine, Alfonso, Father Brian, and the whole Regis group was there. It was a nice and short ceremony and there were a lot of tears. It was really touching and Frank was so happy to have his new house. We gave him some things to get him started (broom, dishes, cleaner, clothes pins, etc) and the boys also gave him a bed. It is still amazing that we built an entire house in 3 days. It is such a great feeling to have helped him out.
Afterwards we went back to the other Frank’s workshop to pick up the boy’s things they bought and then drove around downtown Belize City. We also drove by the tourist village and were shocked at the perception of Belize and the actuality of it. It is unbelievable that we as people can not stomach it to look at the actuality of people’s realities.
This whole trip has been amazing and it is unbelievable that it is almost over. I have seen a lot and learned a lot and am still processing it all. Two more days left and then home to snowy Colorado.
Ciao for now.