Prepare for the 2019 trip

2020 trip plans –

Project Belize, Inc.

2020 Trip Information

Dates for this year’s trip are May 17 – May 28, 2020.  This will be the 33rd annual trip to work in the Toledo District of Belize.

Contents

About Project Belize, Inc.

Application Process

Trip Costs, Payments and Deadlines

Flight Information

Options for May 24

Tentative Timeline

Fundraising & Medication

Physical Requirements

Kit list

About Project Belize, Inc.

Project Belize, Inc. it is a non-profit, 501-C-03 corporation that was created in 1988 by a group of adventurous medical, dental, nursing, and community individuals who shared a joint experience of providing medical and dental care to Mayan Indians and natives of the country of Belize. The trip is self-supported by its membership for each year’s trip. Some donations are received from various service organizations, churches, and individuals to offset some of the cost of medicines and supplies.

Each participating member pays his/her portion of the trip expenses. Each year’s members serve as its board of directors and the trip and planning meetings serve as the annual meeting.  See the website for more information, Projectbelize.org.

Officers are Pam Mueller, Treasurer, Dr. Bruce McNellie, Trip Coordinator, Dr. Quinn Robinson, Medical Director, and a series of others who have made most of the trips, serving as its officers as the need arises. Project Belize, Inc. is a non-profit, 501-C-03 and is not associated with a specific denomination or mission effort. Our group works directly with the country’s primary health care administrators.

Our principal contact has been the Primary Health Care Coordinator, Punta Gorda, and the director of the Hillside Health Clinic in Punta Gorda, Toledo District. Most of our work in recent years has been in the southwest corner of the Toledo District. This year’s trip in 2020 will mark our 33rd annual trip. For pictures of past years’ trips and more information on our group, take a look around the website Projectbelize.org  !

Details: The main group will leave Houston Hobby Airport on Sunday, May 17th, 2020 to arrive in Belize City in the afternoon and pick up rental vans for the trip. We need at least 15 or so people to fly from Houston Hobby on the 17th to carry medical trunks as one of the two checked bags for each person will need to be one of the medical trunks used to carry our medical supplies. There is a 50 lb limit on all bags, so plan accordingly.

Upon arrival in Belize, we will load up in the rental vans and drive to Punta Gorda, check into the Sea Front Inn in time for dinner.  Most of the group will have May 18th and 19th as free days and can visit ruins, swim, rest, or tour the area. A few will work with the hospital and villages in getting ready for the clinics, and prepare medical trunks and vans for clinics. As a group, we will meet our lead translators for lunch at Graces in Punta Gorda on May 18th.  Our workdays will be May 20, 21, 22, & 23, 2020, returning each night to the Sea Front Inn and convening for our evening meal and meeting provided at the Sea Front Inn in Punta Gorda.  We will have our last group meal and annual board meeting in the café at Sea Front Inn the evening of the 23rd.  The lodging and evening meals May 17-23rd , and the lunch on the 18th is paid for in the group fee.

Most will return to the States on May 28th, 2020. Your time is your own beginning the morning of May 24th.  Lodging, transportation and meals are your responsibility starting May 24.

Left to do are fund raising activities for the purchase of medications, packing, contact with the Health Care Coordinator at the hospital, and the director at the Hillside Clinic in Punta Gorda, who have been given our dates for 2020.

Application Process:

Due to logistical constraints, we are trying to reduce the total number of participants this year, so turn in your application and pay the $200 deposit soon.

1)            Send an email to mcnellie@mcnellie.com that says you are interested in going this year.

2)            Submit the application and health form: projectbelize.org/healthform.docx The application process aids with the selection of those who will be a part of the 2020 trip. Look over the physical requirements in the sample application at the end of this letter to be sure this trip is a good match for you.  We will not accept applications after the cap has been reached.

3)            Pay the non-refundable $200.00 deposit no later than 12/15/2019.  Method of payments include:

4)            Notify Bruce McNellie at mcnellie@mcnellie.com  and Pam Mueller at muellermont@aol.com when you have paid the deposit, and the form of your payment. Your application will be reviewed and if you are not selected, your deposit will be returned, and your name will be added to the waiting list of applicants for the following year.  Those accepted for the 2020 trip will be notified no later than February 1, 2020.

Trip Costs, Payments, and Deadlines

* The total trip cost for each individual will be approximately $1500 to $1800 depending on the cost of your flight to Belize, and where you chose to travel on your free days May 24 – May 28.

Total Trip Cost is broken down as follows:

1)            Airfare to Belize –  It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BOOK AND PAY FOR YOUR ROUNDTRIP TICKET TO BELIZE and back to the states, this will not be booked through Project Belize, Inc.  Your flight into Belize City must arrive by 12:30 PM on May 17, or you will need to contact Pam or Bruce for other arrangements to get to Punta Gorda.  The cost of this roundtrip ticket will range from $300.00-$800.00.

2)            Group Fee – The group fee is $600.00 per participant and is paid to Project Belize, Inc.  This fee covers transportation upon arrival in Belize, dinners, and lodging through the work portion of the trip ending May 23, as well as expenditures necessary for safe and effective travel and clinics.  See the budget detail below.

3)            Other possible costs during the work days would be for souvenirs or groceries.  You will be responsible for your breakfast and lunch each day.

4)            The group fee does not include excursions during the free days of May 18 – 19, lunches during the week or transportation, meals and lodging from May 24 to May 28. In this past we have collected money for the cave excursion at Blue Creek. This is not being collected this year and you will need to pay this separately if you decide to take a cave tour on May 18 or 19. You are responsible for making reservations and payment for any travel, food and accommodations during these days.  On May 24, most of the group will either go to Guatemala, San Pedro island in Belize, or return to the states. More information and approximate cost for each of these will be explained later.

* *Fundraising is encouraged.  Any funds raised under the Project Belize, Inc., the nonprofit ID must be used for medical expenses, or supplies that benefit the target population stated in our mission statement, the Mayans residing in Southern Belize.  Students may fundraise individually to offset the cost of their trip.

December 15, 2019 – $200.00 Initial Deposit due with application or no later than December 15, 2019.  This is non-refundable deposit unless your application is denied.

February 15, 2020 – $400 The remaining balance of the $600.00 group fee.   This is also the deadline for  notifying Bruce McNellie mcnellie@mcnellie.com and Pam Mueller muellermont@aol.com of your travel plans on May 24th.

April 2020 – Pam Mueller will book in-country flights to the island and back to Belize City at a 20% discount through Tropic Air.  If you choose to utilize this benefit, payment for those flights will be due in April once the final flights are booked and invoiced by Tropic Air.

The above payments can be made by:

Mailing a check or money order made payable to Project Belize Inc. to

Pam Mueller

737 Silver Lake Road

Monticello, FL  32344

Venmo – @project-belize

Budget Detail and Group Fee:

Flights to Belize are arranged and paid for individually.  RT – Houston – Belize City (approximate) ~$300-800 (*This is a guess until you book your flight. Southwest was $299 last year.) Remember the airfare from Houston of $300-800 is an estimate and could be more or less depending on the final arrangements. As of September 2019 it appears that Southwest will continue flying into Belize City, which will greatly reduce the cost from the past. The exact fare for May 2020 has not been posted, but it appears it will be under $500. *Once your application has been approved* and you are certain you are going, I would suggest getting this fare as soon as possible due to the potential for an increase in fuel costs.

Group Costs:

In-country Ground Transportation:

Van/phone rental: ~6@150/day for vans, $75/day for truck for 6 days, $60 for phones)=$6810

Gasoline: 7 @ 78 gal ea @ 6/gallon $3276

Extra baggage fees, handling, storage, and tips: $1028

Guides: $2065

Mules and health care workers: $500

Lodging May 17 – 23/Evening Meals May 17 – 23/: $15500  Sea Front Inn

Special projects (water filter/cook fire supplies): 3530

Medical Supplies: $4500

Total:  $ 37209

Subtotal group expenses for basic trip: $37209 divided by ~60 = $600

The group fee will cover most expenses from Belize City to Punta Gorda, including ground transportation through the 24th back to Belize City/Houston, group meals for the evening meals of May 17th – 23rd , lodging the nights at Sea Front Inn from May 17th through May 23rd . You can also buy lunch and breakfast supplies in Punta Gorda the morning of the 18th so you will not have to carry so much food on the plane.  Remaining personal meals and lodging costs after the work portion of the trip will be your responsibility, including the remaining breakfasts and lunches during the trip, and all meals and lodging beginning May 24th through return to Houston on May 28th, 2020.

*Specific Costs Not included In the Above*:

Lodging costs for nights of May 24th – May 28th, 2020 for the “rest and relaxation” portion of the trip.

Food costs for meals except the evening meals during the trip on Sunday through Saturday evening, which will be buffet meals covered by the group. Breakfast and lunches each day beginning Sunday are on your own, and will need to be out of your back pack. You can buy food in Punta Gorda the morning of the 18th.

If some of you decide to keep one of the rented vans, or pick up another vehicle you would need to handle the rental after the 24th on your own.

Approximate cost for optional in-country flights:   These would in addition to the $600.00 group fee if Pam booked these flights for you.

Belize City to Punta Gorda  – RT $250.00

Punta Gorda to Belize City – One way $150.00

Punta Gorda to San Pedro May 24 and then to Belize City on May 28 – 261.00

Belize City to San Pedro Island – RT $135.00

Pam Mueller will send you exact information on the cost of these flights soon after you let her know your itinerary. *The vans will return to Belize City on Thursday morning May 24th, and those wishing to ride overland will save some money in getting back to Belize City and will likely get to Belize City as early as 10 am (Some can leave early if needed to catch flights).*

Flight Information

For those flying from Houston on May 17, 2020: According to the Southwest Airlines website, for those flying from Houston on May 17, 2020, if we can, we need to get the Southwest Airline flight that leaves Houston Hobby around 11 am and arrives in Belize City at 12:30 pm, Belize time, flight number: Southwest Flight 837. (this is subject to change. This was the best flight this past year. The lower cost and the two free checked bags make the savings significant.) The return flight leaves Belize City at 4:40 pm, arriving Houston Hobby around 8:15 pm.

For those flying with the main group on May 17th from Houston, remember to pack so we can allow one of your two checked bags as one of the medication trunks. (This only applies to those ticketing in Houston Hobby who will be checking in at the same time as the main group.)

This past year, this flight from Houston to Belize City was about $300 after taxes and airport fees.

Note that flight arrangements to and from Belize City from the US or elsewhere for May 17th and May 24th or 28th, 2019, are your responsibility. If you fly in with the group leaving from Houston Hobby on May 17th, you will need to check one bag and allow one bag for group medical trunks. We will use part of the money collected for group expenses to pay for the extra bags if necessary. We will need about 15 people to check one medical trunk as a second bag or pay a premium of about $100 for each extra trunk.

Most of the group usually returns to the US on May 28th, but this is up to personal preference and schedules and it is possible to return to Houston on May 24th, by taking a 7 am flight from Punta Gorda to Belize City or by riding in one of the vans which will arrive in Belize City by 10 or 11 am. Several have done this in the past.

For those needing in-country flights, Pam Mueller, our treasurer, will purchase in-country flights from Belize City to Punta Gorda and flying back to Belize City or to the island at San Pedro on May 24th. We must have exact flight arrangements nailed down by March 1, 2020, so once your application has been accepted and you know you are going, let Pam (Muellermont@aol.com) and me (mcnellie@mcnellie.com) know your plans no later than February 15. We have been able to get a discount on these flights in the past, so go through Pam Mueller to make these arrangements.

The main group, as last year, will fly to Belize City on May 17th, get the medical trunks into the country, and pick up the vans. They will meet with the director of primary health care missions, and our guides at noon on Monday, May 18th. If you cannot fly from Houston to Belize City with the main group, just be in Belize City by 12:30 pm on May 17th so you can catch a ride with the main group in the vans to SeaFront, Punta Gorda for the first night. Otherwise you will need to make your own arrangements to get to Punta Gorda. Last year one of our party took a commercial flight from Belize City to Punta Gorda. There is a flight each hour.

We will pick up those flying in on the 18th or 19th at the airport in Punta Gorda and will all spend the nights of the 17th through the 23rd at Sea Front Inn in Punta Gorda.

Options for May 24

1)            In past years several have driven into Guatemala to visit the ruins at Tikal and the old Spanish town of Flores. (Bruce McNellie plans to do that again this year and will help with these arrangements.) The cost of this part of the trip will be about $350: $40 day in lodging and meals, $20 in border fees, $20 in entrance fee to Tikal, $30 for zip line (for those who want to do it), $25 for horse-back riding (one of the mornings), $60 to help with gas and vehicle rental, and miscellaneous costs.) The group going to Guatemala will stay at La Casa De Don David’s in El Remate, Guatemala (lacasadedondavid.com) through the night of May 27th, 2020.

2)            Some of the group are planning on going to San Pedro, on the island of Ambergris Caye.  This can include travel to Belize City with the vans and flying from there to the island arriving early afternoon, or flying directly from Punta Gorda to San Pedro, on the Island, arriving early morning.  There are several nice hotels on San Pedro. In years past some have stayed at the Holiday House – 011 501 2 62014 or 011 501 2 62295; for approximately $200/night for a four or five person apartment, or 110/night for a double. They have a web site: http://www.sanpedroholiday.com/   .  The address is Holiday House, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, P.O. 1140, Belize City, Belize, Central America. San Pedro Holiday Hotel, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, Phone: 713-893-3825, Skype Name: sanpedroholidayhotel, Fax: +501-226-2295, Email holiday@btl.net     Last year they gave us a discount so identify yourself as with Project Belize.

3)            Some choose to fly back to the US on May 24th.  This can include riding in the vans from Punta Gorda to Belize City for no additional money, or taking a flight from Punta Gorda back into Belize City for an additional flight charge.

Tentative Timeline:

Today – send Bruce McNellie an email if you’re interested in participating in the 2020 trip. mcnellie@mcnellie.com

December 15, 2019  Deposit and completed application– $200 non-refundable deposit due to Pam Warren Mueller, Treasurer. AND completed application mailed to mcnellie@mcnellie.com

February 1, 2019 or earlier: Notification of acceptance of the group for Project Belize 2020. Deposits will be returned to those who are not part of the group selected for the 2020 trip.

February 15, 2020 – $400 balance of group expenses due to Pam Warren Mueller, Treasurer. This is the remainder of the final group payment due to Pam Mueller, of $600.  By February 15, 2020 Have purchased your own airfare round trip to Belize City. Make sure your application is approved before making your flight arrangements, and make sure your passport is current. Double check your flights to ensure they are for arrival in Belize City on May 17, 2020, and depart on May 28th, 2020 and fit with the travel times noted in this letter or your personal itinerary.  February 14, 2020 is the last chance to notify Bruce McNellie mcnellie@mcnellie.com and Pam Mueller muellermont@aol.com of your travel plans on May 24th, and if you need in-country flights booked by Pam.

April 2020 – Pam Mueller will book in-country flights at a 20% discount through Tropic Air.  Payment for those flights will be due in April once the final flights are booked and invoiced.  Pam will let you know the exact cost, and payment will be due.

April 22th, 2020 Pre-trip meeting at Memorial Hospital cafeteria at 12:00 noon for those that can make it to answer questions and make last minute travel arrangements to and from Houston.

May 10, 2020 Sunday 1:30 PM – Afternoon Packing Medication Party at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 904 North Street, Nacogdoches, TX – Bring friends to help.

May 17, 2020 Sunday Main group leaves North Street Church of Christ Parking lot at 8:30 am for Houston Hobby. Arrives in Belize City, picks up vehicles, and spends first night in Dangriga.

May 18th or 19th, Monday or Tuesday, Some may arrive in Belize on Monday or Tuesday and fly by small plane, regular service to Punta Gorda. Entire group spends night at Sea Front Inn from the 17th through the 23rd .

May 18th, and 19th , Monday and Tuesday, Group free day (Cave tours, Blue Creek, Rio Blanco, swimming, Lubaantuun ruins which are about 30 minutes from the hotel), while some visit villages and make arrangements for clinics.

May 20, Wednesday First work day

May 21, Thursday Second work day

May 22, Friday Third work day

May 23, Saturday Fourth work day, hold board meeting that evening.

May 24, Sunday Travel day. Group splits up as desired, some to fly out to destination of choice, return to Houston, or some to drive vehicle back to rental agency in Belize City. Spend night of the 24th your choice.

May 25, Monday Free day, spend night your choice.

May 26, Tuesday Free day, spend night your choice.

May 27, Wednesday Free day, spend night your choice.

May 28, Thursday Return to Belize City and flight to Houston.

If you have other questions please contact Bruce McNellie 936-560-9437 home; 936 371 2910 cell, email mcnellie@mcnellie.com

As noted above, mark your calendar for a brief group meeting at Memorial Hospital in Nacogdoches if you can make it at 12:00 on April 22nd, 2020 in the cafeteria at to go over any last minute details. You do not have to be at this meeting. Bruce will send notes to those who can’t make it. We can coordinate some of the after-trip plans as well as travel to the airport.

Fundraising & Medications/supplies

And finally, those of you with connections to clubs or other funding sources, please begin updating them on our trip to see if they might be willing to donate funds for the medications and dental supply expenses. We need about $4500 to buy necessary medications.  Payments can be accepted by check, venmo or paypal.

Pam Mueller

737 Silver Lake Road

Monticello, FL  32344

Venmo – @project-belize

In years’ past, people have also donated medical supplies for the trip that are utilized by Project Belize participants within the clinics or left in the villages with the health care workers.

Be talking up any donors you know for medications for this year’s trip and get them to Bruce McNellie or Quinn Robinson in time for the *packing on Sunday, May 10, 2020*, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. Bring friends to help.

Amazon Smile Also an easy way to help with fund raising, ANY time you buy from Amazon.com go first to smile.amazon.com & select projectbelize.org from the list of 501-C-03 partners with Amazon. Amazon makes a donation of 0.5% on all purchases made using the Amazon Smile site to the charity you designate. If you did this & got your friends to do this as well, it would greatly help our fundraising efforts.

Feel free to call me if you have questions: Bruce McNellie, mcnellie@mcnellie.com, 936 560 9437 home: 936 371 2910 cell

Physical Requirements

Excerpt from the Application for Project Belize 2020

There will be at least three significant hikes involved in the clinics served by Project Belize 2020. Participants are likely to participate in one or more of these. These hikes are often through muddy, unmarked trails through the rain forest including a number of significant hills and river crossings. Also there are several significant hills with little shade. Temperature and humidity are routinely in the 90’s. The issue of personal fitness matching the needs of the hikes is important in ensuring no one is hurt as this could detract from the mission of the group and put oneself and others in harm’s way. Consider a typical hike to include walking across uneven and muddy terrain up and down hills in 90 plus degree heat with 90 plus humidity, carrying a 15 to 20 lb pack for up to 3 hours. If this gives you pause, you should explore other opportunities.

You will be asked to acknowledge and agree to the following statement on the application.

I attest that I am able to meet the criteria set for Vigorous activity+, Greater than 6.0 METs* (more than 7 kcal/min) as noted in the attached link as defined by the CDC:

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/pdf/PA_Intensity_table_2_1.pdf

_______________________________

Kit list

(Suggested)

This year, 2020, we are staying in a hotel, so many things are furnished,
such as linens and towels. Note washrags are not always furnished. The rooms are screened and air-conditioned and you will not need a mosquito net.

This is list of some of the things Bruce brings each year and represents a pretty good check list for most people such as string, canteen, washrag, extra towel, etc.

Especially important are sturdy shoes/boots that will not come off easily in the mud, insect repellent that contains at least 25% DEET, sun screen, and a swim suit.

*Don’t Forget!*

* Make sure your passport is up to date and you know where it is. You have to have it. It takes about 8 weeks to get it updated or get a new one, so get on it soon. You get an application from the district clerk’s office in a county courthouse, have two passport pictures taken and send them with the completed application and your old passport to Houston with about $120 in a money order or cashier’s check. You can check at the county courthouse to get the exact amount.

* Also, don’t forget shots. At this time, you only need to be sure your tetanus shots are updated (every 10 years). Ask your doctor if you have questions. Also, check with your doctor about anti-malaria medication
(Malarone or Chloriquine) as well as a good supply of at least 25% DEET (insect repellent) to ward off the mosquitos. The CDC has taken Belize off the list of malaria prone areas, so it is not required. The most important issue is wearing insect spray for mosquitos for Zika and other mosquito born diseases. We will not plan to out much after dark, so we are somewhat protected from the usual carriers of the disease. Dr. Quinn
Robinson will help with the prescription for Chloriquin or the newer anti-malaria pills (Malarone) if you decided to take antimalaria medications. (It is strongly suggested you not take Larium. There have been some complications with this medications and we are advising against using it.) Contact Bruce and he will forward your request for a prescription to Dr. Robinson.

*Vital*  Passport, make sure it is up to date and in a zip lock bag to keep it dry.

* Canteen (2) or Camelback for at least two quarts or more

* Water filter (optional); the veterans will have several so ignore unless you are obsessive. Each team will carry a Sawyer Filter as well.

*Sleeping*  This year we will be in a hotel with air-conditioning all nights of the trip.

*Toiletries*

* Insect repellent (Containing at least 25% deet)

* Serious suntan block/ lotion and hat

* Toilet paper in a ziplock bag. We may use outhouses or the woods this year in the villages we visit, so bring your own toilet paper.

* Extra glasses/contacts/Contact solution

*Clothing* for about 6 to 7 days or more before you will have access to a laundry.

* Good, sturdy, over-the-ankle boots, or over-the-ankle-high walking shoes such as ‘tennis shoe’ boots that cover the ankle. It is likely we will be walking in deep mud from time to time.

* Shoes for around the clinic if boots are too muddy (wading shoes/thongs/Crocs)

* Swimsuit (we may swim a few times during the trip)

* Shirts

* Shorts

* Light colored and light weight clothing, it can be very hot and humid

* One nicer outfit for after trip

*Shots/Medication*

* Tetanus shot booster if not in last 10 yrs (suggested, but check with your doctor)

* Personal medication plus prescriptions or prescription bottles

* Chloriquin or Malarone as desired. See your doctor about this. (anti malaria medication)

* Personal electric fan/extra batteries (the small ones at the dollar store are fine and really help)

* Antibiotic ointment for bites, cuts, scrapes

* Antiseptic hand-wash or cloths

*Miscellaneous*

* Moleskin for blisters

* Money ($100-$200 extra cash, credit cards work only in a few areas, and some $1.00 bills

* Fanny pack and zip lock bag for pass port and ticket (plan ongetting wet by rain, river, or sweat.)

* Wash-cloth

* String to hang wet clothes

* Knife (be sure to pack in checked luggage)

* Flashlight (2) with extra batteries (a headlamp is great for the caving and hiking)

* Camera extra film/storage cards

* Notebook and pens

* Nothing valuable that would hurt you if lost

* Shades

* Spoon, fork, knife, cup

* Needle and thread

* Extra towel for swimming

* Rope/twine

*Food*  for breakfast and lunch from Monday on (except we will have a group meal on Monday at noon when we meet our guides (you can buy food at a super market in Punta Gorda on the morning after we arrive)

* Trail mix, punch mix, hard candy

* (On food, we will be at a grocery store on Monday morning in Punta Gorda where you can buy food if you wish vs. trying to pack it or you can pick some up when you arrive if you fly in to Punta Gorda)

*Other*

* Needle and thread kits to give out

* Bubbles, small toys, favors to hand out during clinics (NO BALOONS)

* Printed material for teaching personal hygiene

* Printed material for teaching importance of vitamins, nutrition, and clean water

* Printed material for teaching well baby checkups

* For Eddie, and his wife & kids; Dvd’s, candy, video tapes and sewing stuff for Mary Tulcey (These are friends of ours who live in Punta Gorda)