Letter from Belize no. 82
19th August 2019
The last 3 years have seen a considerable drop in rainfall in Belize and now it is official – we have a drought. Fortunately for us at the Retreat, the well provides just sufficient water to keep on irrigating the garden.
But sadly we are also having our own drought. A financial one. After my impassioned letter no 56 in October 2016 quite a few very kind people rallied and sent us donations and thanks to them, as well as those who continue to make donations when they can and those who make very generous monthly donations we have been able to keep going. Here in Belize we receive donations from the occasional guest staying in the guest room and we have various fund raising activities. However the bank balance is again precariously low.
A brief summary of Income and Expenditure for 2018 shows an almost breakeven situation.
|Income from Donations||17660|
|Repairs and maintenance||2396|
|Deficit for the year||-198|
|Bz$2 = US$1 = £0.82|
You may note that neither the Directors nor us as the managers receive any remuneration. Our input is purely voluntary. And you can see that the Retreat is run on a shoe string, wages being the highest expense. These are paid to a very bright, enthusiastic, multi-talented man called Charlie who depends on this wage for the support of his family. This year the Retreat has also contributed to his children’s education costs. The local economy has collapsed somewhat over the past few years with the closure of the papaya industry in our area and with the sugar cane not yielding as much as in previous years. This obviously affects the construction industry which has always been another source of employment and so Charlie is very dependent on us.
Based on this and past years our expenses average out at Bz$1500 (US$750 or £615) per month. With the drop in the value of the pound of course transfers of funds from the UK are considerably reduced from what they were when we first started here. Those regular donations mentioned above total Bz$700 per month so we are in the region of Bz$800 (US$400) or £330) short each month.
It is still my belief that the more people who were able and willing to donate, the less the burden needs to be. For example if 40 people were able to give US$10 (£8) or 20 people could give US$20 (£16) per month we would be OK.
Developing a Retreat in Central America was envisioned many years ago by our spiritual guide and mentor, Kantilal, with the idea of providing a home on the lines of living simply and in harmony with nature for
- Zimbabweans who would eventually not be able to continue with the hardships of life in Zimbabwe and who would not have easy access to countries like the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand or Australia and
- any others who would wish to experience this life style and pursue their spiritual path.
We and our donors remain committed to helping Kantilal fulfill this vision.
Just as a reminder let’s look at the activities at the Retreat. We hold twice weekly satsang meditation sessions and have a small but committed following. We now have a monthly women’s spiritual book group which has been very successful, inviting women coming from all sorts of spiritual backgrounds to share their experiences and teachings. We really practice “living simply and in harmony with Nature” with our “no frills” lifestyle using renewable energy, which means conserving water and electricity and using no energy gobbling equipment. We encourage anyone to come and visit and share this experience and we still hold out the hope that some may wish to live here. We take care of the environment, preserving the forest with its Maya site and protecting the safe passage of animals through the property. This is important as so much forest is continually being depleted by farming which means serious loss of habitat for wildlife and birds. The Retreat property is an important corridor for migrating birds between North and South America as you will have seen from the newsletters. And not only is it for the animal life, it is for children so they may learn to conserve the environment for future generations.
So, if any of you feel you would like to help out, go to the donations page and see the options for how to make donations. Apparently Paypal allows you to set up a regular payment.
Charlie uses a very long pole with a plastic bag on the end to pluck avocados from the top of the 40 foot tree
Bless you and thank you,
Love, Rose and Henry