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My Neighborhood

Updated: Apr 19


This makeshift neighborhood in Belize is located in a swamp area where people, many immigrants to the area, build homes to live with their families. During the dry season, the neighbors build pathways with loose wood boards to create wooden bridges that facilitate travel through the community during the wet season where most of what you see is covered in water. This area in Belize is very diverse and it attracts individuals from different countries seeking a better life. The homes here are not registered allowing people to live inexpensively but also have limited rights and protections. Despite their living situations, the neighbors are very social, good spirited, and thankful to be living in a better community compared to where they lived before. Unique to the neighborhood is Kendra Garnett, the woman with the two kids in the doorway, she is a 35 year-old native Belize resident. She has been happily married for five years and has five kids. Her husband is a construction worker and she is a homemaker.

Their home does not have running water or electricity and they collect water from a nearby well to fill their home water tank. When food is available, the family typically eats fish and fried plantains, which they prepare using a gasoline camping stove. Her kids go to school 4 miles away and Kendra hopes to provide them a Christian education. She is thankful that her church helps them financially by providing funds for basic living expenses.

Kendra and her husband have very little education and feel they are working hard to provide more for their children. She said that if they did not have this area to live in that she would be homeless and is thankful to have a safe place to live with nice neighbors.

Ana, the woman with the colorful laundry in the front yard, is a 40 year-old woman who was born in El Salvador and migrated to Belize 18 years ago seeking a better life. She has been married for 15 years, and lives with her two children, a 7 year-old boy and a 5 year-old girl pictured in the images. Her husband has been working illegally in the US for 5 years and because of his inability to travel back to Belize for a visit, he has never met their daughter.

Ana makes a living by working as a maid at a house in Belize City. Her husband sends money via Western Union every two weeks. Her children do not go to school and typically stay with her neighbor during the day for a fee. In a typical day, she cooks dinner after work and spends time with her children. Their home is a single bedroom wooden house; the entire family shares the same bed and they connect electricity from a power pole nearby without paying for it and use it mainly for cooking and watching cable TV. Even though the houses are not registered, the cable company is allowed to provide cable service for a fee despite the fact that there is no official connection to electricity.

Because there is no refrigerator in the house, Ana preserves meat by boiling it and placing in a cooler with store bought ice when needed. However, they normally only buy enough food for their daily meal. Esperanza, who is pictured sitting on the couch, is a close friend of the family and is from Honduras. She visits Ana daily and also works as a maid in Belize City. She sends money to her two daughters in Cortes, Honduras. The family and the people in the neighborhood were friendly with a good disposition, working hard to carve out a respectable life for them and their families.

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