Several men from St Augustine’s Chapel at Vanderbilt University have just returned from Belize in Central America where they helped build the first Thistle Farms Residential sister organization outside of the US where women survivors will experience healing and the support of a loving community.
Belize is best known for its climate, beaches, jungles and the world’s second largest barrier reef. Behind the beauty, Belize also has a high rate of sex trafficking and forced labor. With almost 40% of the Belizean population falling below the poverty line, women and children are particularly at risk.
Last spring Becca Stevens, Thistle Farms Founder and Regina Mullins, Thistle Farms Residential graduate, were invited by a group of Belizean women to come help raise money and hold a two day training. At the end of that journey the leaders in Belize said what they needed next was a group of construction workers to work to rehabilitate a donated home that was crumbling and uninhabitable.
The letters from Belize have been full of joy. Even when termite nests, a crushing futbol defeat against a team of six year olds, and a day of 150 individual wheelbarrows of hand-mixed concrete were involved, the crew fully embraced that the work they were doing was holy.
The final dispatch from the crew is below.
“Currently sitting on a plane headed back to Nashville after what has been a truly amazing experience in Belize. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who trusted us to be ambassadors and builders.
Before heading out, we were able put the final touches on the exterior of the home. Even with a pretty steep learning curve we managed to have the whole exterior of the home ready for paint by the end of our trip.
Even at our most physically exhausted, it was hard to get down with constant reminders of “don’t worry, be happy” from our Belezean workmate, Colombus. With energy like his we’re pretty sure he eats coffee grounds for breakfast. We also introduced him to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which he renamed “American Sandwich.”
Some of our crew spent some time with Virginia, the founder of the new home, thinking through it's layout. Architect Billy sketched out the floor plan and helped think through the various furnishings and appliances needed to make the house a home. We'll share more about Virginia’s vision for the women of the home. It will truly be a place of peace and healing.
On our last evening, we were honored to have dinner with some more visionaries that have been involved in this project since the beginning. They cooked us traditional Belizean food, taught us some Belizean dances. Needless to say, we're experts at both now!
Thanks again for all the support. We’re excited to see what comes next. The dedication for the house is set for March!”
Stay tuned here on the blog and on social media throughout 2020 as we update the progress of this house.