Just south of Mexico, this Caribbean country is home to beautiful beaches, tropical climate and rich Mayan culture. It is also home to widespread poverty and disease and that is where Hand in Hand comes in. Please join us on an immersion trip that will change lives and help you see beauty in a variety of ways!
|Check out our Belize Immersion Packages!
* Group-type may cause variations in package, please contact trip coordinator for more details.
|Empower yourself and others! Spend a week getting to know the community.
Ask your trip coordinator for other local activities!
Our work in Belize began in 2002. Wayne Fowler wished to expand our mission in the Caribbean and sought the advice of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCNs) who had long standing operations in Belize. The sisters connected Wayne to Mark Thessing who had recently finished his 2 year commitment as a Jesuit volunteer. Mark saw housing as the greatest need in Belize, followed by HIV/AIDS care and prevention.
Continued growth of our programming has led to the construction of the Fowler Community Center which has become home to all our Belize programs. This truly has been a blessing to our organization!
Hand in Hand Ministries has built over 390 homes in Belize City since 2002. Many Belizean families live in substandard housing. Hand in Hand volunteers make a difference by hammering out 16’×20′ wooden homes that keep families dry during Belize’s six-month-long rainy season. Volunteers work side-by-side with our Building for Change partners, forming close personal connections as they complete construction together.
Families must undergo an intensive screening process in order to receive a home, and are required to assist in another family’s build in a “pay it forward” sort of system. In conjunction with this program, the recipients must provide proof of ownership of their own land, assist with the building of their home and attend empowerment classes. These classes teach life-skills classes such as parenting, personal finance and hygiene to empower and encourage positive lifestyle changes. The success of this program was demonstrated in November 2015 when our Building for Change partners culminated 3 1/2 years of fundraising efforts to pay it forward by building and paying for construction of a new home for one of their own neighbors in Belize.
It’s hard to believe a 16’×20′ wooden house could have such a big impact on a family, a community or you – but it does. Donate now.
Sharing the vision of our founder Wayne Fowler, Abel Vargas, Belize Director, had a dream for putting all Belize programs under one roof and finally in 2017, this 7,200-square-foot vision become a reality. Under the direction of Poncio Coc, local workers, immersion trip groups, Building for Change partners, and scholarship students worked together to build this beacon of hope for the south side of Belize.
Hand in Hand dedicated the building in January of 2018 and were blessed to have over 150 people and four television stations gather for the occasion.
It is more than an Outreach Center, it is a community center that will better equipped to change the lives of families in Belize for years to come!
Fowler Community Center includes:
- Administrative offices
- Building for Change office
- Day Care
- Early Childhood Education Center
- HIV/AIDS Outreach Services
- Nursing stations for consultation, testing & medical care
- Meeting space for empowerment classes
- Patio space for fundraising event
- Pre-School morning and afternoon sessions
- Support group meeting space
- Tutoring Center for Scholarship Services
- Warehouse for building materials on site
Please take a virtual tour with us! (Tour was filmed before completion of Community Center)
As our Building for Change program grew, so did our awareness of the issues facing families living in poverty in Belize. We soon recognized the need to address the growing HIV/AIDS crisis, because Belize carried the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of infection in Central America. We chose to focus on the children affected by and infected by HIV/AIDS by opening the Outreach Center – a pre-school and day care, in 2005. In the early years, nearly all of our children were infected by HIV/AIDS, or had an infected, or deceased parent. In addition to providing a loving environment, we monitored the children’s health, administered antiretroviral medications and often treated the pregnant mothers of the children in our program. As the children grew, so did our program.
In 2009, with the help of a grant from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and the Catholic Health Initiative we were able to take our services out into the community with our Mobile Outreach Program. We now accompany about 75 children ages 1-17 in their medical journey with HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund has recognized our program as the “gold standard” for treatment of children with HIV/AIDS.
We also recognized the need for support services for our children as they entered their adolescent years. Support groups began forming in 2010 and continue providing a valuable resource for our teens and young adults as they face the challenges of living with HIV/AIDS.
Outreach Center Today
Though this devastating disease still takes the lives of some of our children, we are experiencing tremendous success. Due to declining mother to child transmission of the disease, we no longer limit access to our pre-school and day care to those who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. They are all affected by poverty, but thankfully, our intervention, and efforts to inform the community about the disease, has eliminated the need for a special school for these children.
- $7,000 – House with plumbing
- $5,000 – House Only
Each year the generosity of our donors makes it possible for approximately 30 students in Belize to continue their high school and college education. For most of our students, $250 in annual support is enough to pay for books, uniforms and school fees, enough to enable them to keep reaching their academic goals. Donate now.
For more information on how to join this trip, contact Allison Ridenour at email@example.com or (502) 459.9930.
“Everyone made me feel welcome even though I went on this trip alone.” – John B.
” We really enjoyed working beside the Belizean family (and friends) to build the house. The trip was a perfect balance of service, work, touring and vacationing. We spent a short amount of time in Belize [City] but we felt like we learned a lot about the country, the people and the community.” – Sandy S.