SAN LUCAS, Toledo District, Fri. Jan. 14, 2022– The James Arthur Albert Foundation from Iowa, in the United States, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Toledo last week to celebrate the inauguration of an internet center built in San Lucas village. The state-of-the-art center, which is fully equipped with satellite internet, was built using funds raised by the foundation over the past six months and will provide residents who have no electricity in their homes access to the internet. It will especially be of service to the many primary and high school students in the village and the surrounding areas who have to do homework by candlelight. Twenty HP computers and a quality inkjet printer will be available inside the center.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the center was attended by the chairman of the village, Santiago Salam, who gave a welcome address in both English and Kekchi; Professor James Albert, president of the James Arthur Albert Foundation, who gave the keynote address; Jeff Lamberti & Linda Friestad, directors on the board of the foundation who spoke on behalf of the donors; Kale Van Bruggen, vice president of the foundation; and Thurman Parham, a resident of the village and a recent graduate from the University of Belize, who was introduced as the manager of the internet center.
“I do not know who you are, and I do not know your names. This is the first time I have seen you in my village. But I thank the Almighty God for these people who think to bring this building to the San Lucas village, and I have thanks to the donors who gave what they have for this building,” said the village chairman, Santiago Salam.
In his keynote address, Professor James Albert told the villagers that the foundation’s donors were touched by the love of learning that the parents in the village had instilled in their children.
“Our hearts have been touched by your children’s determination to get an education and to overcome every obstacle. To get up before dawn and walk an hour in the mud to catch a bus to go to school, and to do their homework by candlelight at night for hours and hours, and to go to a high school without internet. Well, we’re here to remove one of those obstacles, because they are not going to be in high school without the internet anymore,” he stated.
The James Arthur Albert Foundation aims to bring education to disadvantaged children in Belize, especially those in the Maya villages of the Toledo District. Throughout the past 11 years, they have been awarding scholarships to students in Toledo, building and expanding schools and classrooms, and providing textbooks, uniforms, lunches, and other school supplies. As of September 2021, the foundation had awarded 2,400 scholarships to high school and university students. They have also helped to build classrooms at both St. Benedict’s Catholic Grade School and Julian Cho High School, along with a new cafeteria at Corazon High School.
Members of the foundation told AMANDALA that they believe that the possibilities are unlimited when it comes to the new internet center, and that those possibilities include “education, access to telemedicine, and transforming the lives of thousands of children and their families, forever.”