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Sep 24, 1998

V.S.O. marks 40 years in Belize

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It is not the best known volunteer organization in Belize, having lived for many years in the shadow of its larger American cousin, the Peace Corps. But Britain’s Voluntary Service Oversees, better known as V.S.O., has been quietly doing good deeds here for four decades. Today they paused to do a bit of celebrating.

Since the first two British volunteers set foot in Belize, then British Honduras, on September twenty fourth, 1959, not only has the voluntary oversees organization grown tremendously, but Belize has benefited significantly from the two hundred volunteers who have served in the country over the past forty years ago.

Mark Wright, Programme Director, V.S.O., Belize

“I think what we can say is that the type of work that we have done throughout that period has matched quite closely with the skills need of Belize as they have evolved. To give an example, forty years ago, we brought in largely untrained teachers to help in the classroom. Now forty years on, we bring in curriculum specialists and teachers trainers.”

One such volunteer is Kathy Christie, who is a communication specialist attached to the National Drug Abuse Control Council. Christie has been involved with a new education program that was recently introduced in schools countrywide.

Kathy Christie, V.S.O., N.D.A.C.C.

“One particular program is the Drug Education in Schools Program and at the moment we are very excited about a new dimension of that, which is the peer mediation program, cause that’s a program that young people, like Shakira, who has come with me today are working on in their classrooms.”

Q: “Shakira what work have you been doing inside the classroom?”

Shakira Mai, 12 Years Old

“Well, I have been helping children with the problems that they have been fighting every time because there are problems, but we do it in place of the teachers because the teachers take up more of their time to try and help them than teaching us.”

During ceremonies marking V.S.O.’s fortieth anniversary, not only did the guests enjoy a piece of the commemorative cake, but as well they toured an exhibition that highlighted the work of the twenty six V.S.O.’s presently working in Belize.

It is expected that the V.S.O. program in Belize will close down in 2003 as the organization focuses its resources on the world’s poorest countries.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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