Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rowan's Walk Across San Pedro

The Walk Across San Pedro took place on August 25th, and while we were happy with the amount raised, it is still not where we need to be to keep BCVI's services alive for the blind children of Belize.
You can view photos of the event in our Photo Album
We are still accepting donations at

Monday, August 27, 2012

The total is ...

After a wonderful weekend in San Pedro and a very warm welcome from everyone on the island, 
we arrived back in Belize City with a total of about BZ$7,000 taking our grand total
 for both the Walk Across Belize and the Walk Across San Pedro to just over BZ$80,000. 
We have not quite reached our goal yet. 
We are still accepting donations through our website 
or you can make a direct deposit to Belize Bank account #71096 
or via check/cash to PO Box 525, Belize City. 
Thank you to everyone who has helped us get this far!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rowan keeps walking!

Rowan & Joe will be walking across San Pedro, Ambergris Caye on Saturday August 25th.

The walk will start at 9am near Pelican Reef Resort and will end at the Boca Del Rio Bridge with a Meet and Greet Beach Party where you can all meet Rowan, buy some of the delicious food and refreshing drinks we will have on sale, and jam to our live band!

Thanks to our supporters, donors and friends who helped us reach the BZ$74,000 with the Walk Across Belize in July. It is our hope that the Walk Across San Pedro will help reach the BZ$100,000 that we so desperately need to keep supporting the blind children of Belize.

You can keep up to date with the event HERE. We hope to see you there!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Joseph's Corner: Firday and Saturday- The Zoo!

   Hey everybody, I'm so sorry for the delay in posting.  I was having trouble with the internet for the past couple days, but I finally got everything figured out, so there shouldn't be any more problems with keeping up a regular posting.
   Friday was the last day in our first week of camp, and I had finally gotten used to the flow of things here.  I had been sticking with Row all day, everyday, and we were still working on the same things in the same classes.  I found Thursday night a guide to Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint's shortcut keys, and in computer class was able to teach them all to Row.  So after a while we finally learned how to navigate through them.  Computer class success!  In math our group continued to work with the abacus; we focused on multiplication and multiplication tables.  A couple of the camper's siblings joined us as well.  After lunch we played cards during our break; most of the kids didn't even know the most basic games, so I taught them how to play go-fish and Uno.  Which was harder than I thought.  One of the kids, Juan, was difficult to teach because he wanted to keep all the pairs he had gotten in go-fish in his hand, and also just wanted to draw from the deck.  I think his explanation was "because I love fishies. I want to go fishing all day."  Eventually we were able to get him to let go of his cards, but we were never able to fully get him away from the "sea of fishies."  At art that afternoon the campers made bead bracelets and necklaces they could give to their parents or siblings who were with them.  There were more than a half-dozen type of beads, each a different shape or texture, and the campers made the necklaces based on feeling.  In the end, Row made a necklace for his mom made from his favorite shape-the cube.  Luckily it was for his mom, because almost every cube bead was bright pink and I don't think Row could have handled the pink overload (he hates the color). 

  Saturday was an extremely exciting day for everyone at camp, me included.  We all went to the Belize Zoo!  This is a regular field trip for the camp, but every year all the kids and even the adults look forward to it and are excited to visit.  It's exhibits and animals are all local Belizean or Central American animals, and it's in the middle of the forest, so it feel like the animals really are at home here.  It's rather small, but that doesn't make it any less interesting to the visitors, and the kids all made that very clear with their shouts of excitement as we turned into it's driveway.  While we were there we got to see and feed several different tropical animals:  boa constrictors, scarlet macaws, deer (yeah, not totally tropical), spider monkeys, tapirs, peccaries (rainforest pigs), koatimundis (rainforest raccoons), caracols (rainforest turkeys), a harpy eagle (largest living eagle), crocodiles, ocelots, and best of all jaguars.  It was a great experience to see the campers running around listening to all the animals and taking them all the sounds in, being able to experience something just as well as the other seeing kids.  It showed me once again that the difference between them and other kids is not that large.  It's just their eyes, not them.

  Sunday Row and I took a break from camp to just relax and sleep in while everyone else visited Kaye Kaulker for a beach day.  From what I heard it was incredibly fun and I missed out on a prime opportunity for quality sun, but I liked my extra sleep too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Update on Funds

Rowan has completed his 90 Mile Walk Across Belize!
Now, it's our turn to come together and help him reach his goal!

Here is a look at what we've raised as of July 20th, 2012!
Thank you to all our donors and supporters!
If you haven't contributed, there is still time!
Visit our website to donate online!

See photos of his incredible journey in the Walk Across Belize Photo Album!
Special thanks to our Sponsors of $500+:

Belize Telemedia Limited
Delta "International Air Lines Sponsor"
Francis Codd & Family
Prosser Fertilizer & Agrotec Co. Ltd
Brothers Habet
The Great House
Belize Sugar Industries (BSI)
Energy For Life
Mirab Furniture Gallery
Lions Belize & Lions San Pedro
Paul Paytas
Carol Garel
Cheers Restaurant
Big Creek Lodge
Benque Resort & Spa
Allan & Dora Dunker and Family
Yasser & Pamela Musa & Family
Said & Joan Musa
Omar & Gina Habet
Yariela Lopez & Delory Fairweather
Social Security Board
Pamela Killen
The Belize Bank Ltd.
Simon Quan & Co. Ltd
Builder's Hardware
Chaa Creek
Courts Belize
Morgan & Morgan
Atlantic Insurance 
Atlantic Bank
Atlantic International Bank
St. Fillan's Episcopal Church Edinburgh

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Joseph's Corner: Third Day of Camp

The third day of camp has finished, and I feel like I am finally getting into a rhythm here. In the morning there are strict one-hour limits on classes, with quick transitions between each. Each camper's schedule is different, but Rowan goes to the computer skills class first thing in the morning, then math until lunch. Afterwards we seem to always go on trips, either around the city or to the "image factory," a local art studio which supports the BCVI and hosts the camps' art classes. These trips are the conclusion to the organized camp day, and when we get back someone from Row's family is there to pick us up.
Today I worked with Row again, it seems like he's the main person I'll be with while here, on how to operate Microsoft excel and PowerPoint. We were exploring uncharted waters here, because Rowan had finished every prepared curriculum for the camp last year and the teacher's plan was for him to learn how to operate new programs on his own, as training for when he gets or explores new programs. We got pretty far with PowerPoint, despite it being so visual, and he learned how to make a basic presentation with different slides, slide types, and backgrounds. Excel proved significantly more challenging, especially since I'm not sure how to use all it's different options (even though my dad's tried unsuccessfully to show me..sorry pops). So after about 20 minutes of floundering around, trying to figure out how to do different things, we had to give up for the day to move onto lunch block. But we're far from quitting. Tomorrow I'm coming back with a vengeance and will conquer this thing, hopefully.
In math class we worked on abacus skills with one of the catholic nuns who helped with the camp. In a group of five kids, we learned how to set numbers and multiply on the abacuses.
We worked on problems ranging from simple multiplication tables to four digit multiplications. Learning how use an abacus was pretty interesting, but it was crazy to think that this was one of the few ways a blind person was able to do math.
Lunch every day is a cooked, traditional Belizian meal. It always has beans and rice, grilled plantains, Belizian cole slaw, some kind of meat, and is always delicious. We have about an hour to eat and another 30 minutes for break before starting up again. But Row and I had a small delay today before we left for the art studio. A staff member of the Atlantic Insurance Company, a local insurance company, stopped by to give Row and the BCVI a contribution on behalf of the entire company and it's staff. I don't remember how much it was for, but just the action of an organization supporting the camp even after the walk and publicity had ended was pretty gratifying. At least I know now that what we did had more than just an ephemeral impact.
Art class was interesting. For the beginning of it we watched cartoons of Aesop's fables while molding play-do to get our minds into a creative mode. Then we did a little origami. First, we made a house which could stand up by itself, then made a little wallet. Row really loved making these figures, and was extra excited whenever he could fold the paper. The last thing we did was make a picture for feeling. We were supposed to make a picture out of different kinds of papers and materials that pleased the touch instead of the eyes. Row and I decided to make a landscape of the dessert and savannah at night, using sand paper as sand and felt as the camel walking in the background. I must admit, it was not the most visually pleasing, but it felt pretty cool.
Saturday the entire camp is going to the zoo, and I'm extremely excited to go! I stopped by it during the walk because it was one of the end points of a day, but have never been past the main building. Looking forward to the trip has made me want to skip tomorrow's camp altogether, but I'm definitely also looking forward to it.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Joseph's Corner: Camp! Day 1&2

Yesterday (Tuesday) was the first day of summer camp, and it wad great! It was much different than what I expected, mostly because I had no idea what to expect, but it was a great introduction to what was to happen on a normal day.&amp;#160; I found out that everyday is extremely organized, and each hour from 7 AM, when the people wake up, to 4 PM, when camp classes end, is planned.&amp;#160; At 9 classes start, and the kids split into different groups with their family, who act as helpers with whatever the campers are doing, and rotate between classes.&amp;#160; The main classes are computer skills, math skills, and braille skills.&amp;#160; In the computer class, kids learn how to use a computer with the help of the speaking program NVDA, which narrates what the user is doing.&amp;#160; Most of the kids also learn the basics of using a computer without mouse navigation and how to use basic computer programs like the internet and Microsoft word.&amp;#160; Math classes teach the campers how to use an abacus for mathematical problems and holding numbers, and teach how to use a "math pad" (I'm pretty sure that's it'd name), a rubber pad with small square grates, which tiny dice with brail numbers are placed into.&amp;#160; It is used as the kid's paper for math problems, and make for easy structuring of equations.&amp;#160; These pads can help with every kind of equation of middle or high school student might need.&amp;#160; Another class campers take is for brail. This class teaches kids how to read braille, both simple sentences and complex structures, and to type their own braille words and sentences on their personal "brailler" machines.&amp;#160; &lt;/p&gt;<br>
&lt;p&gt;&amp;#160; There are roughly 30 campers&amp;#160; here these two weeks, and with their included family members more than 60 people.&amp;#160; The whole camp takes place in a two story Lion's club building which is at the most 200 ft by 100 ft and the small office where the whole staff of BCVI works. The kids are in classes most of their time during the camp's hours, which is around 5 hours when lunch and breaks aren't included.&amp;#160; Some days, like today (Wednesday), we take field trips to different places around Belize instead of afternoon classes.&amp;#160; In fact, on Saturday we are all going to the Belize zoo and then Sunday to san Pedro, one of the islands off the shore of Belize where we will chill on the beach. &lt;/p&gt;<br>
&lt;p&gt;&amp;#160; Yesterday I spent most of my time getting introduced to the camp and this schedule, but taught this one camper named Juan, who is possibly the funniest 5th grader on the planet.&amp;#160; We worked on his addition skills on the math pad for about an hour, but spent most of the time reading his currently favorite book- animal farm (yeah, it shocked me too that he would read this).&amp;#160; He had been given a laptop the year before with the NVDA speaking program and had gotten an electronic version on it so the voice would narrate the words on the screen.&amp;#160; He would then listen to it in his headphones as he scrolled through the lines.&amp;#160; It was incredible how attune he was with the book; he had already memorized the animals' "7 Commandments" in the book.&lt;/p&gt;<br>
&lt;p&gt;&amp;#160; Unfortunately I didn't get to work with Juan again today. Instead I got the pleasure of working with the ever famous Rowan Garel all day.&amp;#160; I helped him in computer and math skills class in the morning.&amp;#160; After lunch, though, we did little practice work because our group visited the Belize museum! Most of the people who went yesterday were visiting for the first time, and we all learned about Belize's Mayan history and culture.

  These first two days of camp have been so much fun and incredibly interesting, I hope the rest of my time here will be as good.  From now on, I will try as hard as possible to post every day about the things I am doing here, I hope you guys will continue to read! Thanks,

Joseph Gallagher