THE GATEWAY RETREAT
ANNUAL REVIEW 2019
Introduction and Summary
Our Annual Review is intended to provide an accessible account of the highlights and challenges of the year, plus a snapshot of financial comings and goings. The Review is an opportunity to show the work being done, to promote and reiterate our objectives (what the Retreat was set up to do), outline the resources available to it and how these have been used and especially to thank our donors. We hope you will be interested to read what has been achieved during the year.
OBJECTIVE AND WHAT WE DO
This project’s purpose is to create a Spiritual Retreat enabling like-minded people who follow the timeless teachings of all Enlightened Masters to live a simple, quiet life in a loving and supportive community. Some may be visitors; others short term or longer term residents. This community’s aim is to facilitate the inner contemplation and recognition of the true nature of our being.
The Gateway Retreat is situated on 30 acres of forest near Corozal in the north of Belize. At present, given financial resources available and only 2 residents, it is off grid and utilises sustainable energy in the form of solar power to provide electricity (plus back-up generator) and rainwater harvesting provides water for the house. A well supplies water for crop irrigation. Sustainable methods of farming are used for crop growing in a cropping area and beautiful organic gardens have been created. Local Belizeans are employed to help with maintenance, clearing, watering, weeding, repairs, etc. Maya history can be found on the Retreat with a Maya well and an extensive Maya village mound site which is awaiting further investigation.
At present there are just two permanent residents (unwaged volunteers) living in a Mennonite house on the land, with an en-suite Guest Room on the ground floor, along with lock up tool storage and parking for the Retreat’s Pick-up truck. Further houses will be added as more suitable people join this venture. Cabanas are also planned for shorter term visitors or guests. As the community grows and develops, additional buildings will be required eg: an Office and a Meditation Hall to enable residents and guests to gather together. A Mennonite well to supply water, plus electricity will be installed as funds and requirements of the community dictate. The Retreat aims to be financially self-supporting at a later date by a commercial enterprise plus cottage industries taking place on the Retreat – which will be situated away from the main housing area.
HOW WE ARE FUNDED
The Gateway Retreat is registered in Belize as a not for profit company - The Belize Gateway Trust Foundation. The accounts are externally audited and submitted annually to the Attorney General’s Ministry. At the moment, until more residents arrive and a commercial enterprise and further cottage industries can be established, it is funded by donations and fundraising. This is most warmly appreciated by all involved and the ongoing generosity and support is greatly valued and allows the project and this wonderful vision to continue. To donate please go to either Facebook or Website Donation Page.
SNAPSHOT OF ACCOUNTS
OVERVIEW OF THE WORK AND ACHIEVEMENTS 2019
- At the beginning of the year black beans, ground nuts and mung beans were planted for the visit of the local Garden Club.
- Fruit trees including 2 avocados, 2 mangoes and 3 custard apple trees yielded fruit but some of the yields were adversely affected by the lack of rain. Excess avocados were given to Charlie, the main Belizean worker and to the Satsang.
- In October a small bed of mung beans was planted with the rest of the cropping area under cassava. Some cassava died during the drought and was replaced by cuttings from surviving plants.
- In November a further bed of mung beans and a bed of black beans were planted.
- Mulching with forest litter and rotating of cassava plants between beds - ongoing.
Sculptures by Rose
A sculpture of a Manatee was made for the Graffiti Fest in January, out of discarded plastic water bottles. It was later moved to the Retreat.
In July, the above new sculpture was added to the gardens - based on a sketch by Mooji.
Daily work hours are provided by a Belizean worker who has proved skilful and reliable. A large number of his working hours were taken up by watering the ornamental gardens and fruit trees during a prolonged dry spell. Ongoing work included clearing of bush re-growth generally and on the Tree Trail and Maya mounds, plus weeding of the ornamental gardens, grass cutting, etc. After strenuous work bending and clearing on the Maya mounds, this worker suffered a back strain and a chiropractic treatment was paid for out of Retreat funds.
He also made a new wooden stand for the irrigation tank at the N.W. corner of the veranda after the previous one rotted. He undertook general maintenance of the house, gardens and drive daily. A section of veranda railings was scraped and varnished. Social security payments are made for his employment and he is entitled to paid holiday. The BGTF donated Bz$ 65 for school fees and Bz$ 45 for school shoes for the Belizean worker’s family. Occasional help is provided by a second Belizean worker.
- Daily prayers and Satsang from 05.30 to 07.30. Weekly Satsangs on Saturday morning at 10.00 am. and Sunday afternoon 2.00 pm.
- Monthly Women’s Spiritual Book Group.
- No Open Day was held this year.
- A local Garden Club visited the Retreat in February and the Maya mounds were cleared in readiness. Twenty five people attended and were shown around the Tree Trail and Maya mounds.
- A two part Enneagram Workshop was held in October/November with 7 participants.
- In March a group of 5 people from the El Pilar Archaeological site, who were in Corozal for a meeting, came out to the Retreat on their way back to Cayo District in order to look around the Maya mounds.
- 2 friends from Zimbabwe visited the Retreat for a few days at the end of March.
- Dr H Vogel visited for 2 days in November.
- Jess Elwell and Jake Koolman visited the Retreat over Christmas.
- A project proposal was sent out to the Institute of Archaeology and to two local Maya organisations to clear a few inches of forest litter off the small plaza on the Maya site, after the UK Directors agreed to attempt to raise funds to cover the work. Dr Allan Moore of the Institute of Archaeology said he would visit – date as yet not set.
- Extra help was required to remove fallen trees from the Maya mounds.
Andy Kenyon set up an On-line Spiritual Bookshop with the aim of creating an ongoing international fundraising opportunity. Over 70 books featured in the set up but sadly, despite the best efforts, there was no support and the books were eventually sold off to a well-known UK second hand bookshop.
A 6 week art class was held on a weekly basis taught by Rose to 8 participants and a one hour weekly class held for a young girl. Ongoing clothing alterations are sewn by Rose.
In November a group of 6 fundraisers met in Belize to discuss ideas and an Instagram account was set up by Erika. In December they compiled a list of workshops to be run at the Retreat during 2020 to raise funds. Rose sold 3 articles based on newsletters about Belize to International Living Magazine. In December a stall was held at the local Art in the Park where canvas bags and bird photos by Rose were offered for sale. Earlier in the year Rose sold greetings cards at the 10th Anniversary of Art in the Park.
New Members and Directors
An Extraordinary General Meeting was held by email in November, at which the resignation of David and Christine Harris as Directors and Members was received. Adela Pederson and Roy Rodriquez were elected as Members. Adela Pederson, Beverley Miles, Rose and Henry Elwell were elected as Directors. Andrew and Ann Kenyon continued as Directors and Founder Members.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Regular monthly Newsletters are sent out - please follow the link link here.
We are on Facebook where news of the Retreat and its environs is regularly posted.
Our website is https://gatewayretreatbelize.org.
We have set up a YouTube link for videos.
A Slide Show has been created to show you around the Retreat and its environs.
The Visitors’ Guide has been updated with information about visiting the Retreat and Belize.
And for regular inspirational quotes from Masters of all traditions please see our Twitter Page.
Instagram is here.