COVID-19 Cayo District Mutual Aid Fund

We all  need help.

With the ever growing viral pandemic, the government of Belize recently stated the country only has enough food to sustain its residents for the 6 months. Government rationing means resources will be held hostage from people who need them when they need them the most. There will be additional obstacles to people who need food to eat, cleaning supplies to protect themselves & medical supplies to treat the sick in the middle of a pandemic in this young & developing country. Community organizing is imperative to circumventing issues with distribution, demand exceeding the rate of growth from seed to table, and shortages due to reduced working hours and employees who may contract the virus or need to care for someone who has.  Preventative measures to slow the spread of the virus have caused stores are already closing, some are allowing only 2-3 people at a time and many of the stores that are open have limited hours of operation and shelves that have sat empty all week.
Read more about the 6 month estimates here: https://www.breakingbelizenews.com/2020/03/26/agriculture-experts-confirm-six-months-worth-of-locally-produced-basic-food-and-feed-supplies-available-in-country/  

This problem is worsened by the fact that the minimum wage in Belize is only BZ$3.25/hour ($1.63/hour USD), and as of July 2019, Cayo district recorded a net decrease of 1,300 persons in the labor force. That makes Cayo District have one of the highest amounts of women and young persons without income before many places of business have closed their doors in an effort to protect themselves and their staff from contracting or spreading the virus. These people need assistance now and will grow to need more as the pandemic causes us all to find ways to survive in this new world. Read more about that here: https://www.breakingbelizenews.com/2019/06/27/statistical-institute-of-belize-reporting-record-low-unemployment-rate-in-belize/  also here: https://www.sanpedrosun.com/business-and-economy/2019/12/21/unemployment-rate-on-a-rise-sib-reports-10-4-of-belizes-labour-force-without-jobs/  and also here: https://www.breakingbelizenews.com/2019/01/27/raise-the-minimum-wage/  Being that majority of Belizean income comes from the tourism industry, the COVID-19 pandemic means an economic recession is coming faster than we know, making it imperative that we set up whatever networks of support that we can now. 

Before things get worse, we need assistance to obtain food, medical supplies and the  gas necessary to transport them to those in the most need. The cost of gas in Belize is BZ $10.92 ($5.49 USD), making transporting goods difficult without assistance. Most Belizeans have to work more than 3 hours for 1 gallon of gas. This is just another obstacle preventing people from accessing things they need with limited hours and occupancy caps.  Tosh Lanza of Tosh Cayo Shuttle has graciously volunteered to be one of the main people transporting supplies but will need assistance with the gas associated with driving across the district. There are also a few other volunteers who can travel within the Santa Elena/San Ignacio (SE/SI) locations as well, but we would primarily be relying on Tosh to get us to the villages in Cayo District that are outside of SE/SI - Esperanza Area. 
See real time gas prices in Belize here: https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/Belize/gasoline_prices/  

We are also coupling our efforts with the Belize Tourism Industry Association and their food drive so that we can operate as efficiently as possible with the resources we have. Currently they are building BZ$50 care packages of food with a goal of 50 packages per week. These care packages would include available grains, flour, sugar, toilet paper, vegetable oil, canned goods, eggs and soap. Availability of items will ultimately decide what goes into the packages in the coming weeks. 50 care packages at an estimated BZ$50/package is BZ$2,500 monthly ($1,250 USD), so any help that they can get with this goal will be greatly appreciated by all and we are doing our best to make sure they reach that goal weekly. 

Here is how we plan to use your donations:
 * 40% of all donations to go towards food for the care packages being facilitated by the Belize Tourism Industry Association. 
  * 25% of all donations towards medical supplies: Tylenol (acetaminophen) , masks, gloves, asthma inhalers, alcohol, hand sanitizer, aerosol disinfectants etc. 
  *25 of all donations towards gas to transport these items across all villages in the Cayo District. 
  *10% towards activities for children and other miscellaneous needs that have not been discovered as of yet but will assuredly come up. 

All donations will be recorded for transparency sake and can be located here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DkMx699rN6qzBIUAYOxMGvrQtJqBP4WczWm3C7if0KM/edit?usp=sharing 

There will also be an account of how those donations are used and these spreadsheets will be updated weekly. 

If you can donate for medical supplies, that would be phenomenal. The countries fragile medical infrastructure, like all we've seen against COVID-19, will not have the supplies or manpower to treat everyone as the virus continues to spreads. We currently have about 60 medical facilities with a combined total of about 700 hospital beds. This for the entire country with a population of over 375,000. We need basic medical supplies just to safely conduct daily business like picking up and dropping off care packages to protect those who have selflessly volunteered to come out of their homes to make sure that others can eat. They aren't going to give them to us for free. If you have medical supplies you can ship we'll gladly take them as well for as long as we can logistically get them. 

To follow with community organizing, please join the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cayodistrictmutualaid 

The people who need help the most, living in rural areas and marginalized communities, are also the ones the virus is targeting indiscriminate of age, race or creed. Now more than ever we need to step up and take care of the vulnerable members of our society. With every dollar we receive we continue to expand our organization and provide assistance to more people in need. Only together can we make it through the days to come.

Donations

  • SHARON ROSS 
    • $40 
    • 2 mos
  • Kristy Cantrell 
    • $1,000 
    • 2 mos

Organizer and beneficiary

JESSICA ORTA 
Organizer
Jessica Orta 
Beneficiary
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