Jun 9, 2009

Be Kind Belize

Humane Education Ain't Just for the Birds You Know

This gorgeous shot of a Harpy Eagle was taken by Maya

Where have we been? Why haven't we blogged? How can we be living in tropical paradise and be so busy? Oh the questions.

We like to keep our blog supporters updated but we also want to make sure we have really interesting stuff to share. Of course we could rub it in constantly and report back on our wonderful friends, the sparkling Caribbean Sea where we walk our dogs and swim regularly. We could brag about the great fishing and how amazing it is to eat fish that we have caught ourselves, straight from the salt water onto our grill. We could talk about hanging out at beach bars with our feet in the sand, the breeze in our hair, a cold beer in our hand tapping our feet to stomping good blues music. We could revel in the barefoot beach lifestyle that we have grown to love, treasure and embrace. We could drone on and on about the interesting people we know who are doing all sorts of heart stopping, enthralling and magical things. We could, but we won't.

What we will do is tell you a little bit about why we are so busy. Here are some of the things we've been up to. We've been taking photographs for a fund raising calendar for the local humane society. Sounds easy eh? Well, first we have to coordinate times with everyone, which isn't so easy when there is something called 'Belize time', which seems to mean that appointments don't constitute any sort of commitment. A good example of Belize time is the recent announcement that the Belikin Calendar has been released for 2009. Um hello guys, it is June already. But for those of you who don't know Belize time, there it is for you. For those of you who don't know the Belikin Calendar, have a click and look. You'll realise that most of the guys who buy the calendar aren't making the purchase to check what date it is. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

Then there is getting the weather to cooperate. These pictures involve people and their pets. As anyone knows, who has worked in this field, trying to get an owner and pet both looking fabulous in the same shot is a miracle in itself if you are attempting anything resembling a posed picture. Then there is the tactful and time consuming task of making everyone look extra beautiful without looking unnatural. Fortunately Maya is a genius. We want to get this calendar out on time - not on Belize time and we want to make the local humane society a lot of money. Watch this space and wish us luck. The good news is that we have gorgeous pets and stunning owners and there will be a fair mix of boys and girls - so everyone should be happy.

In the midst of all of this we realised that we had better start earning some real money and so we set off on the task of writing a business plan and getting ourselves all excited about a new business. Then the economy sort of collapsed and we started to feel it in Belize. Not the right time to start the business we were planning and we have been disappointed to have to shelve the idea temporarily. Those that were involved are disappointed too, but such is life. We are moving forward with our next plan of action and things are going very well. We will be updating you all when we are ready to launch Conch Creative formally, but that is a hint. That is the name of our business

Of course, you all know that Maya has been gardening and that combined with finishing our house has been a humongous task. Enjoyable and frustrating all at the same time.

Colette has been particularly busy. Everyone who knows her, knows that she is always up to something, she does a bit of writing, a bit of music a bit of this and a bit of that, but her main focus recently has been her humane education programme, Be Kind Belize. (website was designed and provided by the amazing and wonderful people at Belize Bird Rescue) After living here for sometime and trying to work out what she could do to give something back to this wonderful country that has been so welcoming to us, she decided to use her lifetime of
ence in animal welfare to develop Be Kind Belize.

Some of you might be asking, 'what on earth is humane education?'. Well, Colette sums it up by saying that it is the teaching of kindness in all of its forms.

A more complicated but detailed definition is provided by the all knowing Wikipedia.

"Humane education makes the acquisition of relevant knowledge, skills, and commitment to living ethically, sustainably, and peaceably on this planet the very purpose of education. It does this by infusing the curricula at all levels of education with meaningful information, inspiration, and tools for creating a safe and humane world for all.

Humane education examines the challenges facing our planet, from human oppression and animal exploitation to materialism and ecological degradation. It explores how we might live with compassion and respect for everyone: not just our friends and neighbors, but all people; not just our own dogs and cats, but all animals; not just our own homes, but also the earth itself, our ultimate home.

Humane education helps raise a generation that cares, that realizes that what we do matters, not just to ourselves but also to everyone our lives touch; a generation that understands the connections between both our personal and cultural choices and the fate of other people, other species, and the Earth, and takes responsibility for creating a better world. Humane education achieves these goals by inspiring people to identify the values that will guide them through life and by teaching them the process of embodying these values in the face of complex problems and needs.

Humane education promotes empathy and compassion towards all other species.

The birth of humane education as a national effort dates back to 1915. In that year, “Be Kind to Animals Week” was inspired Dr. William O’Stillman, leader of the American Humane Association. AHA’s primary goals were: visiting local schools to promote the development of humane education and publicizing the good works of the nation’s humane societies."

So, overall, it is a pretty good thing. Colette started designing this programme over a year ago and studied hard to ensure that her lessons tied in closely with the Belize National Curriculum. She then approached schools and was delighted to be invited to work with two - Holy Cross Anglican School and Island Academy - very different schools but both full of delightful children, who seem to love Colette's Be Kind Belize lessons and rather unconventional teaching methods.

The children have put on plays click here to see play. And they have written songs click here to hear them sing .

One of the most exciting things that Colette has done through her programme is the Kind Kids Adventure. Through the generous help and sponsorship of all sorts of individuals and businesses, she has set up an overnight field trip to the Belize mainland for a group of children from these two schools. Field trips aren't always particularly unusual but this one is different for a number of reasons. Firstly, the children are choosing which of their classmates get to go on this trip - only two from Island Academy and four from Holy Cross will be able to go as this trip is actually a prize for the kindest child. All of the children in each class get to use Kind Kid Coupons to identify and reward kind behaviour by their classmates. Through this system, which the children have to support by drawing a picture of the act of kindness along with a written description, which is then verified by the teacher, children will actually 'vote' for the kindest child in the class.

The children who are lucky enough to come on this trip will get the chance to visit a wild bird rehabiliation centre, Belize Bird Rescue, where they will learn about wild and domestic birds and see conservation in action. They will meet a real Belizean cowboy, who specialises in training horses with kindness and see him work with horses. They will visit a reptile conservation programme, the national Audobon society, get to learn about environmental technology, find out how to become a veterinarian in Belize and, on top of all of this, they will get a half day of cave tubing at Caves Branch . There are so many people to thank and Colette will be doing all of that properly and hugely after the trip, but the kids (don't tell them if you are reading this and you know one of them) will be receiving t-shirts, knapsacks, chocolate and all sorts of other amazing goodies donated by people from all over the world, who have heard about Be Kind Belize and want to help.

Fortunately, Colette has been in animal welfare a long time and knows how to do things on a shoe string. She also doesn't want to get into fundraising and the whole having to be on a committee, be terribly diplomatic (although she's never been known to have been diplomatic in her life really), do fundraising and all that malarkey, so she has kept costs down to a minimum while gratefully accepting practical donations.

But Colette isn't stupid either and printing costs a fortune down here, so she has set up a little Be Kind Belize Cafe Press Shop online, where you can purchase Be Kind Belize products and help out with the costs. You can also be incredibly fashionable, hip and rather sexy (there are even t-shirts for dogs). Or you can be a really a wonderful friend and buy items as presents for others. Either way, check it out as the logo is adorable and once you see it, you'll want one. The logo, was in fact, created by the talented and mysterious Maya.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a stolen shot of the now famous 'Flyin Mayan'. Taken by Ruth Verrals from the gorgeous Caribbean Villas

And another one which could only be titled (for those of you familiar with British Panto) 'She's behind you!' Or Maya's caption which is 'Jazz Hands'. Taken by Ruth Verrals from the gorgeous Caribbean Villas.

One little aside. We don't normally review local restaurants here because we are fussy buggers and we don't want to insult anyone, but in this case we'll make a little teensy exception. True to form, no review, just a comment. 'F'ing brilliant food!' Hummingbird Cafe.

To sum it all up boys and girls - We are busy. We are creating. We are doing. We are going to be launching soon. When we do, we will make sure you guys are definitely going to hear about it. We love you all. Colette & Maya

ps. This blog was supposed to be an interview with the great Drummer Dan and his talented friend Derrek. Unfortunately, the boys are rather slow at answering interview questions. So, if you see Derek, could you please give him a kick up the arse from us.