Building a bus stop for and with the community

Hi I’m Natsuko from Japan, today I want to share my experience about my final project while working with Humana People to People in Belize.

My small lovely community – named San Isidro – is located in the rural area in southern Belize. There are around 40 families living here, mainly consisted by Maya, Q’eqchi’ and little bit of Spanish people.

The first sight you will see when you entering this community was a small poor structure bus stop. Here people waiting for a bus long time (One day I met a lady who waiting bus for almost 3 hours!!!), because no one knows the running schedule which you can easily get from their website – but most people don’t have access to internet. Sometimes people are just chilling and talking under the shade enjoying the time together with their friends. I guess this bus stop is the only common place that people share, except for the church.

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Walking through the community, you will see lot of plastic bottles or packages thrown out in the both sides of the road. This was a problem, people keep their own yard very clean, but once they enter to the common area, they don’t seem to care too much. I want to share the message that there is no mine or yours, when talking about the environment.

Considering those situations I came up with the idea of making a new bus stop together with community members and with support of Humana. I thought if people could be proud and enjoy the process of constructing, they would take care of the place nicely even though it’s in a common area.

I saw some examples in Belize, some “gift” suddenly dropped by foreign NGOs, forgotten by the people, only waiting for the moment of getting spoiled. I learned it’s very important to create local people’s emotional attachment for the project to make it sustainable.

Together with Alcalde, the local chairman, we started the project. He was very cooperative and everyday he managed to gather 3 to 5 people from the community. They surprised me a lot because there are very good in their hands. They taught me how much things we can do only by hands, hammers, shovels and saws (no electricity!!).

First we broke the old structure down, and then we put reinforcing bars, cement poles, a cement floor, a woody bench, a roof, the bus schedule, the village sign, a trash can and paint. I can tell you it was a lot of work and a long process. I put my energy especially for painting because I love art and I believe it can make people happy in a different way. I picked up some symbols from Maya and Q’eqchi culture, and painted on the wall. Lots of children came and helped even though I didn’t ask them, such a wonderful moment it was. And I guess, this time, no one has to wait for a bus for 3 hours because of the new bus schedule board.

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During this project, even when I went back to my home with cement all over my body or even when I had to take a shower with tarantulas next to me, I was so happy and satisfied.

Special thanks for Anna and Alessia for helping me till the very last moment of this project, and all the local people who support me. I love you and I miss you❤

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Building a bus stop for and with the community
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