UNION TOWNSHIP — Dover Friends Meeting will host an ice cream social this Sunday to kick off a fundraising campaign for a newly purchased building for the Belize Friends School and ministry in Belize City, Belize.
The public is invited to fellowship and meet Oscar Mmbali, the newly appointed pastoral minister for Belize, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 30. Dover Friends Meeting is located on Dover Road, off State Route 134 North.
Wilmington Yearly Meeting has a deep history of involvement with the Belize Friends School (BFS), according to a media release. Belize is a Central American country on the Yucatan Peninsula directly south of Mexico and east of Guatemala.
“We’re enthusiastic about the new pastoral and educational work in Belize City,” a Dover Friends Meeting spokesperson said.
The Belize Friends School is located on the south side of Belize City. This part of the city faces extreme poverty, and is a transit point for drugs and weapons headed to places like Los Angeles, stated the media release.
“Families face a lot of risk and children are especially vulnerable to being pressured into drug trafficking and prostitution,” the release added.
In the Belizean education system, students are required to pass a primary school exit exam, demonstrating an eighth-grade level of knowledge, before being admitted to high school. Students from unstable family backgrounds struggle to meet this requirement for many reasons, and those who don’t pass the exam and move on to high school find themselves with few legal opportunities for employment, the release stated.
The Belize Friends School provides remedial education for children who do not pass the exit exam on their first try. Currently, the Friends School can accept 20 to 22 students, but the Belizean government has asked the school to repeatedly take on up to 100 more students. The BFS has a successful track record in getting students through the exam and on to high school, stated the release.
There also is a need to provide education for adults; even unskilled labor positions often require a primary school education. The BFS has started two adult classes: one to prepare adults for the same primary proficiency exam the children take; and one beginning with basic literacy skills such as letters and numbers.
In order to make space for this work, the Belize Friends School is moving to a larger building. Friends United Meeting has purchased a building that will allow the school to stay in the same area of Belize City where its work is especially needed.