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Mar 17, 2011

Good Start Preschool needs clean running water

Access to potable water is often taken for granted in urban areas. But in many rural communities the provision of adequate water systems remains a challenge.  We traveled west today and found a preschool set in the middle of a roadside village on the Western Highway without a water supply.  News Five’s Marion Ali has this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

The principal, teachers and thirty-four students who spend most of their days at Good Start Preschool in Camalote Village, Cayo have everything a school needs in order to function well—everything that is, except for clean running water.  For the past six months since the school relocated from the community centre to its present roadside compound, they have been functioning without the services provided by the Belize Water Services.  Principal Carol Banner says it is not for a lack of trying on her part.

Carol Banner, Principal, Good Start Preschool

“Somebody from Belize City I had written a letter for my application answering said that I need to pay five thousand and odd dollars because no main pipe run in front here.  I was asking for a yard-to-yard connection.  My neighbor is saying that he invested on his own.  Since this land runs all the way to the back I asked them—and since the main line run in the back—I asked them if they could put their meter at the corner in the back and then just let me run some three quarter inch pipe which come out far cheaper for me.  And for some reason that’s not a possibility right now.”

What is also not a possibility is for Banner to cough up the five thousand plus dollars it costs to pay for the pipes and labor.  She says that she took up the initiative to purchase the school building and provide the preschool because there was none other in the area.  Banner says that with only a small monthly grant from the government and a ten dollar monthly fee per child, meeting salaries and repaying the loan for the building leave her with very little spending power.

Carol Banner

“The thing is this pre school isn’t a money-making venture.  It’s something for the community and I don’t see how I could come up with that because I’m still paying for this building right now.”

We noticed that everyone else along the stretch is connected to the water system and after inquiring, we found out that they too had to pay the cost to access the service.  After several calls to the Belize Water Services main office in Belize City, the company’s Public Relations Manager, Haydon Brown, told us that everyone must pay the price for connection to the village’s main supply, which is located about a quarter mile away from the school.  The problem has created an inconvenience for Banner who, for the entire period, has had to truck buckets of water from her house a mile away to the school for the children.

Carol Banner

“I started bringing my water from home.  I’m thankful that it rained, I hope the bucket caught some water.  We have to flush the toilet manually and then we have thirty-four children. And one of the mandates for a preschool, you supposed to have running water and if I forget or if I don’t have the vehicle then I’m in trouble.”

Which is why the parents of the little ones attending the preschool are concerned.

Carolina Cucul

Carolina Cucul, Preschool Parent, Camalote Village

“This kinda weather here, they bring germs, they bring stuff like that, they need to wash their hands.”

Alicia Arnold

Alicia Arnold, Preschool Grandparent, Camalote Village

“Everybody has to wash their hands and we usually eat with our hands and if we don’t wash our hands that’s the way we get sick.”

Shelmadine Banner, Preschool Parent, Camalote Village

Shelmadine Banner

“She have a preschool now and we need water to wash their hands, to flush the toilet and as we all know it’s a necessity.”

The parents are asking the government, the water company or the community to help the school get access to running water before health issues affect the preschool.  Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

Banner says she has offered to pay the connection fee in installments to B.W.S., but she says that is currently on the discussion table before she can get a reply.

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6 Responses for “Good Start Preschool needs clean running water”

  1. BZNinCALI says:

    What happened to the $5,000,000.00 the GOB was going to use to help develop programs for the needy, single Moms with at risk children. Here’s a need & a good way to get in the game now while the children are still young enough to learn the skills too many of our young adults never got a chance to develop.

  2. PRINCE MICHAELS says:

    I have NEVER heard of such a ridiculous, selfish, and heartless act against the lil children? First of all, I have to commend Ms. Banner for her tremendous acts of public service to her community! She is truly a role model to what these women in Belize should be doing! However, it turns my stomach to know that she is not being supported in a situation that seems

    mandatory to have ALL the basic necessities in order to have an institution like a school up and running. I mean these are kids! How are u going to tell me you’re gonna deny kids added to clean running water? Maybe not denying but we are making things really difficult for them! Its really simple folks, run the relay pipe as suggested by Ms. Banner and that is it! Don’t tell her about no $5000 !!! Are u kidding me? Don’t u see what this lady is doing for her community? She is a public servant, the least you blood suckers could do for her is to make things easier for her, not more difficult!

  3. Elgin Martinez says:

    It’s a shame.This Government really need to start doing something for these innocent little kids.

  4. Belize says:

    These people that manages these big companies are some dum @$$#$. They have all the education in the world and cannot come up with a solution to help the poor kids of Belize. I bet this morning they are having a meeting with all the managers to look into this situation which is not needed. Educated people. Then when they get out the meeting they will draft up a press release. Thats what the $5,000.00 is for to pay those @$$ big salaries to solve something that anyone can solve. I bet if it was for a pre school that had money just a phone call will do because one of their child is going to that school. Why can’t we treat everyone equally in this country?

  5. belizeanpride says:

    only the price tag for the connection fee is really insane. this is the time that patrick faber need to step in and intervene with the BWS for a better solution or maybe he can pay that for the kids. come on, WTF is wrong with BWS, can’t they give this pre-school a hand by cutting the price at least half of the total. unfortunately this is the present belize we live in and the way big companies manupulate our community needs. Jeez. Let the adventist group (missionaries) come and build a small water tank for this pre-school I bet this village is gonna appreciate it with all their heart.

  6. Concerned citizen says:

    Isn’t BWS under the management of the Government of Belize? Minister Faber should be the first to jump into this opportunity for the provision to the school!

    Government of Belize SHOULD wave the installation fee! Education is the key. The children are our future. Lets invest in our future. Lets get the water installed at the school so the children can a healthy learning environment.

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