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FBB Newsletter Spring 2014

Spring 2014

Newsletter Editor,

David Lansing

Inna Disya Issue:

Letter from the President

Full Basket Belize in Action: Recognition of Scholarship Students at Ocean Academy

Interview with Dave Lansing, new board member and editor of the "Cho"

Community Grants Program Awardees for 2014



Visit our websitewww.fullbasketbelize.organd click on the orange DONATE button to make your contribution.

Alternatively, you may send a check to:

Full Basket Belize

PO Box 29021

Portland OR 97296

Donations are tax deductible.


A shout out to our 2013  donors!

THANK YOU for continuing to make Full Basket Belize's work possible!

Linda Applegate - Senanu Ashibor

Harry Bennett - Chad Bourne

Sherry Boyd - Jeffrey Cleveland

Cynthia Cruz - Henry Cunningham

Sean & Nicole Wuff Dodds

Janet Dove - Kristi Drexler

Kateri Drexler - James J. Drexler

Gale Garza - Lori Goodman

Michael Graves - Ranjit Hakim

Jill Hepp - Joan Hepp

Ron Herring - Craig Jacobs

Jay Johnson - Nikki Kelsall

Brandon Kitagawa - Gladys Kitagawa

David Lansing - Mimi Zebrick Lawrence

Carol Lieberman - Jo & Bob Link

Robin Mardeusz

Kara & Andrew Martinez

Erin McCool - Katie Meehan

Barbara Moss - Charlotte Nal

Sarah Reynolds - Barbara Romero

Mindy Rowlands

Todd Schumacher

Hank & Judy Schumacher

Mirella Shannon - John Shepherd

Shepherd Trust - Catherine Spector

Catherine Varley - Carolee Walters

Shannon White - Andrew Witthohn

Lessa Wytock



Board of Directors

Jo Link


Kristi Drexler

Vice President

Mirella Shannon


Katie Meehan


Sarah Reynolds

Contributorship Director

Charlotte Nal

Fundraising Director

David Lansing

Newsletter Editor

Erin McCool

Scholarship Director

Brandon Kitagawa

Ron Herring

Project Grants


Shannon White

Liaison Director

Jeffrey Cleveland

Jill Hepp

General Directors

Robin Mardeusz


Leroy Almendarez

Kara Martinez

Chris Minty

Associate Directors



Interested in volunteering with Full Basket Belize?

We are always looking for volunteers to help with a variety of tasks that can be done from home and/or in Belize, including:

serving on one of our committees

contributing photos for our newsletter

assisting with outreach to Belizean secondary schools eligible for scholarships

writing Belize-related articles for the newsletter

conducting media outreach in Belize

If you would like to volunteer your time and energy, please contact:

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Wonder what the current batch of PCVs in Belize are up to?  Here's your answer:

We are a small group...currently 15 with 22 more arriving in June. We are the kick-off team for a five-year Rural Family Health Project in conjunction with the Belize Ministry of Health.The project is aimed at decreasing the number of maternal child deaths and the incidence of death and complications due to non- communicable diseases.

At this time, Health is the only sector here. There are 4 volunteers in Cayo, 4 in Orange Walk, 1 in San Pedro, and 5 in Toledo.

From the Facebook group "Belize Peace Corps Volunteers 2013-15"

Letter from our President
Jo Link, RPCV Belmopan 2000-2002

Hi everyone!  I am very happy to share with you some of the wonderful things that have been happening at Full Basket Belize since our last issue.

First, thanks to the wonderful generosity of folks like you, we raised over US$7,000 in our recent fundraiser.  This will go a long way toward supplying Belizean students with scholarships and Belizean organizations with project grants in the next year.  A big thanks to board member Jill Hepp for spearheading our campaign.

Second, we have installed a new board of directors who will serve for the term 2014-2016.  We held our first meeting in January, with returning and retiring directors welcoming the new members.  The excitement and energy was palpable!  I look forward to working with these dedicated volunteers who are taking a bit of time out of their lives to share with the deserving folks of Belize.

Third, we proudly announce our 2014 project grant winners.  Please read Brandon’s article below.

Fourth, we have entered our scholarship season.  We have received over 60 scholarship applications from deserving students throughout Belize and are now determining the winners who will be announced soon.  The big news is that we have decided to allocate more money to scholarships, so we are excited to announce that up to 20 students will receive financial support for continuing education in the school year 2014-15!

Fifth, we hope to raise our visibility in Belize this year.  New board member, Ron Herring, visits often and has offered to visit our scholarship students and projects while in country.  Read all about his recent trip in his article below.

With this issue we welcome our new newsletter editor, Dave Lansing, and his assistant, Jeff Cleveland, and thank them for quickly learning how to put this newsletter together.  We also thank our retiring editor, Kara Martinez, for being a wonderfully helpful mentor in this process.

Thanks to everyone who supports Full Basket Belize!

Full Basket Belize in Action: 
Presenting Certificates of Recognition to Scholarship Students at Ocean Academy on Caye Caulker

by Amy Garland Myers and Ron Herring

Ron Herring presenting the "partner school award" to Ocean Academy principal Hilda Marin

On a warm Wednesday in mid-February, Ron Herring, board member for Full Basket Belize, paid a visit to Ocean Academy High School on Caye Caulker along with his sister, Janet. They arrived towards the end of the school day as the students were helping clean their classrooms and getting ready to go home. There was a lot of excited energy as the boys and girls of Ocean Academy ran around the two-story building in their blue and tan uniforms.

The school is in the process of expanding and adding a third floor, as many students in the next few graduating classes from the only primary school on the island have expressed interest in continuing their education. Ocean Academy was started in 2008 and was originally planned as a small “home school.” On the first day of registration they had more than 35 families interested and quickly had to change their plans and become a full-fledged private high school. The school does not receive any government funding and works hard at creative ways students can pay for their education beyond scholarships from organizations like Full Basket Belize. For example, one student paid for a year of school by his dad installing bathroom tile while another student’s father, who owns a dredging company, delivered sand for the school’s construction projects to pay for tuition.

For the Full Basket Belize scholarship recipients, the students are chosen not just on pure financial need, but on academic performance and dedication. Joni Miller, one of the founding teachers of Ocean Academy and the one responsible for their fundraising efforts, works with the other teachers to identify those students with academic drive and a desire to go on to further education after high school.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Evelio Reyes and Lilly Alamina. Evelio, in his final year, has received assistance from Full Basket Belize for every year of high school. He is very interested in math (which Ron encouraged since he has a math degree!) and wants to go on to University to study business and accounting. Lilly is in second form, and her favorite subjects are English and Marine Biology. She is interested in becoming a lawyer. Lilly was born and raised on Caye Caulker and says she loves marine biology because she “grew up right on the sea.” Ron presented each of them with a Certificate of Recognition for their hard work and dedication. Both students were very appreciative of the financial support and intend to go on to higher education.

Ron presenting a FBB scholarship award to Evelio Reyes

In addition to telling about Lilly and Evelio, Joni shared stories of past Ocean Academy students and scholarship winners who’ve gone on to have successful careers in their fields – which would not have been possible without the support of Full Basket Belize. One girl’s story in particular stood out.  We’ll call her “Mary.” She was a reserved young lady who said she wanted to be a poet and songwriter, but she was very shy and rarely spoke up during class. During her time at Ocean Academy, while being supported by Full Basket Belize, Mary blossomed into a confident young lady and a strong writer. She graduated from high school and now supports herself by regularly performing her own songs at one of the popular tourist bars on Caye Caulker.


Ron presenting a FBB scholarship award to Lily Alamina

It was touching to hear success stories and understand the profound impact these scholarships have on students. Completing high school doesn’t just give them more knowledge; it allows them to grow into confident, well-rounded adults ready to contribute to the community. We congratulated both Evelio and Lilly on their hard work and told them we’d be tracking their progress so that in a few years we can share their success stories with the world.

Interview with David Lansing
New editor of the "Cho"

Meet our new newsletter editor David Lansing. David is originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize from 2000-2002 as a rural development officer. Currently David is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. David’s research keeps him going back to Central America, although mostly to Costa Rica, where he has been conducting research on the implementation of the country’s ecosystem service payment program, and its impact on small farmers.


Dave Lansing wearing a sweater with bamboo behind him. It has been so long since he's been to Belize that this is the most 'Belizean' photo he could come up with.

Photo by Larry Lipe

You served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize. Please tell us about the work that you did there.

For most of my time in Belize, I lived and worked in Seine Bight Village on the Placencia Peninsula. My job was technically a “rural development officer,” but in practice, almost all of my work was centered around teaching in the village school. When I arrived, the school had eight computers, some of which their school sports teams had won and some that were donated. They were all sitting in boxes, and there were vague plans of doing something with them. The principal offered me a room, and I set up a computer lab, which really worked out to be a resource room for kids that were behind on their reading and math. They could play reading and math games on the computer—which was a big draw—but I would make them sit with me for some one-on-one lessons first. I also tried to start a few projects to allow residents to better sell handicrafts to tourists in nearby Placencia. For a variety of reasons—and I think this is something many PCVs can relate to—none of the projects really panned out, so most of my time was spent in the school.

What was your favorite part about living in Seine Bight?

There were so many great things about Seine Bight Village that it's hard to pin it down. I would say that pretty far down the list were the things that are normally associated with the Placencia peninsula—the beach, the ocean, SCUBA diving. All of those things are great to have in close proximity, but they were overshadowed by how vibrant village life was and how open people were to having me live there. It was not a boring village by any means, and it seemed like there was always some kind of village event going on. Plus, in pretty short order, I felt like I had a lot of friends and had gotten to know some of the families really well.

It was also an eye-opening experience being an American living in a village that was hemmed in on both sides by American expats. The expats there had bought their little piece of paradise and were “living the dream,” so to speak. A lot of these folks also had some pretty strong ideas about how to “improve” Seine Bight, and their ideas were usually pretty far from any of the real needs of people that actually lived in the village. For example, a common idea I would hear was to paint the houses pretty colors. This, of course, has little to do with any of the actual issues in the village. There was quite a bit of land pressure because of the booming real estate market on the peninsula. In response, a lot of families were building houses in the mangroves and looking for ways to fill in the land so they wouldn’t have to wade through water just to get to their houses. For people with houses in these circumstances, having it painted in a two-toned pastel arrangement was a pretty low priority!

What have you been doing since you left Belize (studies, degrees, anything you want us to know about you!)

After Peace Corps, I somehow managed to convince Stephanie Lipe (RPVC – Belmopan, 2000-02) to move to Cheyenne, Wyoming with me and live in my parent’s basement while we occasionally got jobs substitute teaching. Amazingly, after that experience, she agreed to marry me, and we both went to Ohio State University for graduate school. I eventually graduated in 2009 with a PhD in geography, and Stephanie earned a PhD in Agricultural Engineering in 2008. We are both currently assistant professors in the University of Maryland system (she's at College Park, I'm at Baltimore County). We were both able to conduct our dissertation research in Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast for 1.5 years. This part of Costa Rica feels a lot like Belize in many ways.  They even have a hot sauce that tastes similar to Marie Sharp’s, so the whole thing felt a bit like Peace Corps part two, only with a car and a one-year-old baby. And instead of losing twenty pounds, I gained about that much! Currently, we live in the Washington DC suburb of Hyattsville, Maryland, and we have two children, Quinn (age 7) and Gavin (age 5).

How did you get involved with Full Basket Belize? When did you join the board?

I was part of FBB from the very beginning, but only as a small donor, and never pitching in with the nuts and bolts of running the thing. After some nudging from Katie Meehan, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. It's safe to say that I got more out of being a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize than I ever gave back, so today I am happy to continue to help in whatever small way I can. Also, it has been way too long since I have been back to Belize (not since 2004). We have made some plans to go over the past few summers, but we always had to cancel because we were too busy. I am hoping that somehow my role as a board member will provide us with the push for us to finally make a return trip.

What is your role as newsletter editor?

In addition to putting together the usual updates from the board, my main job is to find a brief feature article or two that highlights some aspect of the country and the work that FBB is doing. If anyone reading this has a story they would like to see in the newsletter, please contact me!  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Community Grants Program
Brandon Kitagawa, RPCV Hol Chan Marine Reserve 1999-2001

Full Basket Belize’s Community Grant Program Is Stronger Than Ever

In our eighth year of funding community-based projects, Full Basket Belize is pleased to announce our three Community Grant awardees for 2014.  In another competitive pool of applicants from all over Belize covering environmental, educational, and health issues, three projects set themselves apart from the rest.

Belize Community Conservation (BCC) and Caribbean SEA: Continuing a project FBB funded in 2013, BCC and Caribbean SEA will build on the foundation built last summer in the San Mateo neighborhood on Ambergris Caye.  San Mateo currently lacks proper water and sanitation infrastructure, which has created significant health and environmental risks.  BCC and Caribbean SEA will train and work with residents in San Mateo to take steps to reduce waterborne illnesses, minimize environmental impacts, and improve the overall quality of life for the community. This year's project will include community outreach, education, water sampling, and a train-the-trainer program to help build the capacity for long-term solutions to the community’s needs.

Port Loyola Organization for Women (PLOW): Approximately 100 young women ages 14-17 and from 10 different high schools on the south side of Belize City will be invited to attend a two-day workshop entitled Saving Our Daughters.  The workshop is designed to empower, educate, encourage, and enlighten young Belizean women by helping them to acquire the skills to become strong independent women, to make the right choices in education, to learn how to say “NO" and to stay away from or get out of abusive situations.

Las Sartenejeñas Costura y Artesania Cooperativa: Fishing, the mainstay of the economy in Sarteneja Village, has been on the decline for the last ten years and is becoming increasingly unstable.  This newly formed women's cooperative is trying to help diversify the male-dominated local economy by teaching skills to help women enter the economy.  The Cooperativa will use the FBB grant to continue teaching women how to sew and do handicrafts as well as business skills such as operations, accounting, and marketing.  The FBB funds will also help the Cooperative develop a website to showcase their achievements.

For the full list of FBB Grant Recipients, please visit OUR WEBSITE!

If you want to help us continue to support community projects like these AND scholarships for dozens of deserving secondary students in Belize -- PLEASE DONATE TODAY.

Together, we are making a real difference in the lives of Belizean communities and youth!


Full Basket Belize is a non-profit organization whose volunteer directors dedicate their time to make sure our modest budget is spent as effectively as possible. With low overhead costs, the work of volunteers, and generous donations from supporters, Full Basket Belize has made a small but significant difference in the communities of Belize.

In providing scholarship funds to secondary schoolchildren, as well as grants for community projects, Full Basket Belize has been able to continue service to the communities of Belize and remain connected to a country we love so much.

Full Basket Belize does not discriminate against any employee, volunteer, or grant applicant because of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, national origin, disability, age, or covered veteran status. It is also Full Basket Belize’s policy to comply with all applicable national and local laws pertaining to nondiscrimination and equal opportunity.

Full Basket Belize is a volunteer-run, nonprofit organization (501c3). All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.




P.O. BOX 29021

Portland OR 97296

Full Basket Belize improves the education, health and environment of Belizean
communities through educational scholarships and community grants.

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Mission Statement

Full Basket Belize improves the education, health, and environment of Belizean communities through educational scholarships and community grants.

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Proud affiliate of the NPCA