Refurbished playground on its way to Belize
Last March Rotarians built this three-room school house in Oxotoha, Belize. This year they're heading back to the community with a refurbished playground and a solar-powered streetlight. (Supplied photo)
A refurbished playground and one solar-powered streetlight might not sound like much, but for the residents of Otoxha, Belize, it will make a world of difference.
Camrose Rotarian Ron Grue, and a team of workers from the Rotary Club of Camrose, made their way back to Otoxha Feb. 20th.
Last March a team of Rotarians built a new three-classroom school in the community. Now they’re going back with plans to install a playground and programmable streetlight.
“When we go there we try to spread ourselves around the community and pay them for our meals,” Grue said. “It gives them a little bit of income and it gives us a chance to actually get out into the community instead of us being [segregated].”
Paying it forward
The playground was taken out of Ecole Sifton School and then sent to The Emmanuel Foundation to be refurbished.
The companies popular “Pay it Forward” initiative has facilitated the installation of over 40 playgrounds in 16 different countries around the world.
“They take these playgrounds from different parts of Canada and restore them and then ship them to different third-world countries,” Grue said. “They have arranged for the shipping to Belize in the container and then we’ve arranged for the container to be sent to Otoxha.”
Grue said he hopes the playground will do more than just provide recreation for the children in Belize, adding he thinks of this initiative as encouraging children to pursue an education — something that is very difficult for residents of Otoxha.
“Last year we got the school built and that’s going really well. This year we’ll get the playground in and I think it basically falls along the lines of education,” he said. “If we can get these kids educated hopefully they can get a job...maybe we can create some sort of industry in the community.”
“The young people realize they need to get an education, but it’s really tough to finance it,” said Rotarian and trip member Gord Schmidt.
Grue estimated the cost for a student to get an education would be roughly $1,000 per year — an enormous sum when you consider the average annual salary for a family in Otoxha is half that amount.
In addition to the playground the Rotarians will also be donated four laptops to the school and they’re hoping to have a satellite internet connection activated later this month.
Let there be light
Blaze Plastics Inc., a company located in Bawlf, Alta., donated a programmable solar-powered streetlight, which the Rotarians will install in the community.
Owner Bryan Beattie said it should provide enough illumination for the community to be able to see where they’re going after sunset.
“It’s basically a sensor light. It stays on low-power, and then when somebody walks within 30 feet of it, it will go onto high-power,” Beattie said. “So it will light up your pathway [all night] but then it goes to full brightness when it senses motion.”
The light is made in Canada and is valued at $1,200.
Beattie said he wanted to support the initiative in Otoxha by making a practical donation.
“I think these guys are doing a great job and I just want to give [the Rotarians] my support,” he said. “It’s good to show too that there is extra technology out there that can help to support change.”