October 16, 2019

She Usually Makes it To School

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She usually makes it to school.

Unless the bridge has fallen down again.  Or unless the bridge is just too slippery to navigate safely after the seasonal tropical downpours.

The locals living in a swampy subdivision next to the Belize City cemetery are used to their bridge of patched pallets - pallets which are precariously held up by rickety stick pillars. The unstable walkways, smeared with dog droppings, teeter and totter as they wind their way around ramshackle dwellings. Once the rainy season begins, the swamp water comes up two or three feet, almost to the bottom of the shanties. And the crocodiles move in. Pieces of the bridge may not have fallen yet, but she might slip off.

Life here in “The Burial Grounds” neighbourhood is tough for her.  Her family had probably left another Central American country and made their way to Belize City for a better life.  They began here in the swamp with hardly anything. Home is salvaged lumber, tin and tarp. Water is jug-laden trips to the community water pump. Sanitation—best not ask.  Gunshots at night; drinking and drugs already early in the day. In its jangled jungle, she learnt survival of the opportunists, the slyest, and the strongest.

But a sanctuary of learning is nearby for her. 

In 2006, Pastor Ernest Betson and his wife Carolyn started a church-plant in the Burial Grounds.

The next year, the Betsons opened a preschool in the new church building. Since then, Unity Presbyterian School has grown much faster than expected. As separate facilities were constructed, the community began to respect and appreciated the school, embracing it with love and pride. Children who otherwise would not have access to school were now blessed by being able to learn to read, write and, most importantly, to trust in the Lord Jesus.

She usually makes it to school because she gets to learn about the Savior in safety.

“She” represents all students who come from their difficult neighbourhoods to attend Christ-centred schools in Belize and all around the world. She is hoping for educational opportunities that will provide her with options outside her neighbourhood.

She puts her faith in a school where Christ is number one. She puts her future in the hands of teachers with servant hearts.

Her faith is well-placed, because when she graduates years from now, she'll have the learning, heart of service, and conviction to make her community and country a better place for her children and her children's children. 

And that's because she usually makes it to school.

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