St. Stephen’s is located in the beautiful and remote Creole fishing community of Monkey River Village in Toledo District.   There are 65 children in school, ranging from Preschool to Standard 6, an age range of three to fourteen years.  (Generally children should reach Standard 6 by age eleven, but children in Monkey River are often required to repeat grades.)

The school was built in 2002 after Hurricane Iris, so the building is much more spacious than Belizean schools in general.  The school has five teachers, including a Preschool teacher and a teaching Principal, Mr. Walter Garbutt.  We are very fortunate in that four out of five of our teachers have education qualifications - very uncommon in rural schools.

The children of St. Stephen’s come from the village, and this year for the first time we welcomed children from the nearby village of La Esperanza (“Hope”).  These are the children of immigrant fruit workers from neighbouring Central American  countries, and are generally even poorer than Monkey River children and are almost exclusively Spanish speaking.  As English is the language of education, and St. Stephen's children speak Creole and Spanish at home in the main, the teaching of correct English is a key issue, as indeed it is in many of our schools.

The village has just been connected to the national grid, so for the first time the school has electric power.  This enables lessons to continue when it rains - previously the louvers had to be closed and it was too dark to see!

The school has a feeding programme which has brought huge benefits in health and behaviour.  The programme is funded by donations and by the parents, who pay the heavily subsidised price of  US 50 cents.

Recently the children have been involved in arts and sporting activities including appearances at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts.  It is hard to explain the importance of such activities to children, whose lives are circumscribed by a small village of 200 people, in boosting self confidence and opening their eyes to the possibilities of the wider world.

This year, we were able to send a record thirteen children on to High School, seven of whom passed their Primary School Exam.  Our highest scoring student was Gustavo, who joined us from La Esperanza.  To see the pictures of graduation, click HERE.

To see pictures of our end of term party, summer 2010, click HERE

To find out how to help St. Stephens, click here.

 Our slide show shows the children of St. Stephen's Monkey River at work and at play.

For more information about St. Stephens, contact us by email.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.