Belize Friends School Receives Quakerdale Grant

For the second year in a row, Friends United Meeting—Belize received a $10,000 grant from the Quakerdale Foundation for the reading program at Belize Friends School. This funding allowed the school to hire Ms Benjamin as a reading coach specifically to focus on the reading skill of the students. This program has had positive consequences for the school as it was able to grow and the students made progress in their reading skills.

Belize Director Oscar Mmbali reports: Since Belize Friends School started receiving grants from Quakerdale, our enrollment has doubled. This is because the grant enabled the hiring of a teacher who provides a remedial reading program that is most needed in this community. This program gives opportunity and care to students who have reading difficulties and are often left behind, or pushed through the system, without paying attention to their unique learning needs. The additional grant we received this year will enable us to add a teacher assistant to the staff so that we can take care of an increasing number of students who are enrolling at Belize Friends School.

Currently, there are twenty-two students enrolled in the school. Students seeking admission after January 2024 are enrolled for the new school year that begins in September 2024. One student has been registered for the new year, and several other applications are under review. We are grateful to see the school population rising again and the school ministry thriving. As we move forward, we seek to achieve the following: to maintain and increase the student population to our capacity limit of thirty-six students; and to improve the quality of education.

FUM Field Staff Nikki Holland excitedly supports this initiative by sharing personal stories and reminding us that this reading program is impacting real kids. Here is what Nikki shared with us: The other day I was walking to my office and I encountered Ms Benjamin, our reading coach, going into her classroom. She was holding a letter, which she gave to me. It was a letter about how much a student loves Ms B, written in neat and beautiful handwriting, decorated with colorful designs. I looked up from reading it to see tears shining in Ms B’s eyes. “You understand it?” she asked. I said I did and asked if it was written by a particular student, because of the word choice. She nodded, took a breath, and said, “She didn’t know how to write any letters when she got here last year. She couldn’t even hold a pencil.” Then it was my turn to take a breath! This student is about sixteen years old! I knew she was having trouble, but I hadn’t known it was that much trouble! Only one year and now she can write her loving thoughts so beautifully! This is the effect of our reading program at Belize Friends.

Another one of Ms B’s students was told his entire life that he was not supposed to survive infancy and that the doctors said he would never be able to learn anything. He had received that into his mind as a story about not ever being able to learn. Ms B calls it a “song they have been singing to him his entire life.” Now, she has let the other staff and teachers know that we must all sing a different song to him, reminding him of how much he has already learned and letting him know we all believe he can continue learning. And she instructed his parents to sing this new song to him, too. Already, so early in the school year, he is showing more confidence in learning.

Our reading program is a powerful environment where children are not only learning skills but also gaining a sense of their capability and value. Each of these kids matter, and we are so grateful to the Quakerdale Foundation for recognizing the impact of our reading program, and to each of you reading this report for your support of our precious students.

Founded in 2018, Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is faith-driven and community-focused, seeking to impact the world for the gospel by serving as Christ serves. The foundation provides grants and consultation assistance to nonprofits that support children and families.