Prepare for the 2016 trip

Prepare for the 2017 trip – our 30th year!

This is the letter for this coming year’s trip.

Our plan is to limit the group to 26, which will include an application process.

The dates for this year’s trip are May 14 – May 25, 2017.

It is a long letter, but it covers all aspects of the organization and details about this year’s trip.

*Last year we were more than full, so please keep this in mind when you decide to send in your $200 deposit, due 12/15/2016. We plan to limit the trip this year to 26 because of travel, lodging limitations, as well as the dates needed for the trip to avoid the rainy season.

To Prospective Project Belize 2017 Members,

Take a moment and send me an email that says you are interested in going this year. As you read through the rest of this letter, you will see an application process that will help with the selection of the 26 who will be a part of the 2017 trip.
This change is necessary to limit the group size and it will require that you make an early decision about whether or not you are interested in going. An application will go to you as soon as you send in your deposit to Pam. Please email me at mcnellie@mcnellie.com when you have mailed your deposit.

Contents

About Project Belize
Trip Costs
Flights
Tentative Agenda
Hotels
The List
Fundraising & Medication
Physical Requirements

About Project Belize

For those who are new to Project Belize, 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-supporting 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 its annual meetings.

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. We are a non-profit, 501-C-03 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 2017 will mark our 30th annual trip.

The main group will leave Houston Hobby Airport on Sunday, May 14th, 2017 to arrive in Belize City in the afternoon and pick up rental vans for the trip.

We need at least 12 people to fly from Houston Hobby on the 14th 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. Our workdays will be May 17, 18, 19, 20, 2017. The days of May 14th – 16th are for travel, work with the hospital and villages in getting ready for the clinics, and for free time to relax and explore.

Most of the group will have May 16 as a free day and can visit ruins, swim, rest, or tour the area. The main group will return to Houston on May 25th, 2017. Your time is your own beginning the morning of May 21st.

The main group will spend the first night, May 14th, at a hotel in Dangriga, and the nights of the 15th through the night of May 20th at the Sea Front Inn in Punta Gorda as we were not able to get reservations at Blue Creek. We will have our last group meal and annual board meeting at a nearby café, Grace’s Cafe, the evening of the 20th. The vans, the hotel where we will spend the night in Dangriga, and the nights we will spend in Sea Front Inn are reserved.

Left to do are fund raising activities for the purchase of medications, packing, and contact with Ruth McDonald, Health Care Coordinator at the hospital, and the director at the Hillside Clinic in Punta Gorda, who have been given our dates for 2017.

Trip Costs

* About $1500 to $1800 depending on the cost of this year’s flight. (See the detail below.)
* Project Belize participants split the costs incurred.
* *Funds that are raised are used to offset the cost of medical supplies. (Exceptions are made for students, but others raising funds must use them for supplies and pay their own way).
*

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**Application and Deposit:* Please send $200 made out to Project Belize, Pam Mueller, Treasurer, 737 Silver Lake, Monticello , FL 32344 as soon as possible but no later than December 15, 2016 to secure your spot.

Your deposit will trigger a full application to be sent to you by email. 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 2017 trip will be notified by January 8, 2017 of their selection for the 2017 trip.*

*The balance of the group portion of the trip, or $400 will be due February 15, 2017.*

*The group will be set at 26 for this year so plan ahead to ensure you have a slot. 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.*

Please email Pam and Bruce to say that your deposit is on it’s way – Email: Muellermont@aol.com and mcnellie@mcnellie.com.

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The $200 will serve as a deposit for the trip. Group payment does not include the airfare to Belize City (which is to be arranged on your own and is not part of group expenses), and, it does not count the money needed for those who decide to fly from Belize City to Punta Gorda on the 15th or 16th and not take the vans with the main group on the 14th.

(Once you have decided on your travel plans, contact Pam Mueller about the amount needed for the airfare from Belize City to Punta Gorda, and to San Pedro, should you decide to go there following the work portion of the trip. Last year this was about $250, either roundtrip Belize City to Punta Gorda, or BC to PG to San Pedro. For those going to San Pedro you will need to handle the arrangements for the return flight to Belize City. You can do this when you land on May 21st at the airport at San Pedro.).

When your application is approved, another payment of $400 or a total of $600 for group cost (in addition to your airfare to Belize City, which you must arrange on your own) will be due February 15, 2017. (See detail of budget below).

Flights (Individual flights)

RT – Houston – Belize City (approximate)
~$300-800

(*This is a guess until you book your flight. Southwest was $299 last year.)

RT – air from Belize City to Punta Gorda
(PG) $250.00

This is for those flying roundtrip from Belize City to PG on the 15th or
16th for the in-country flight)

Group Costs: (approximate per person)

In-country Transportation:

Van/phone rental: ~3@150/day for vans, $75/day for truck, $30 phones for 7 days)= $3553

Gasoline: 4 @ 78 gal ea @ 5.75/gallon $1800

Extra baggage fees, handling, and tips: $475

Guides: $900

Mules and health care workers: $550

Lodging: $7325

Medical Supplies: $1000

Total: $15603

Subtotal group expenses for basic trip: $15603 divided by 26 (assuming
26 will go) = $600

Subtotal Group cost for those flying in on the 15th or 16th 23rd from
Belize City to Punta Gorda ($250 + $600) = $850

Subtotal Group cost driving from Belize City on the 14th = $600

Total (Estimated)

Total cost for those flying in on the 15th or 16th: $850 + ~$300-800 air
(rt to Belize City from Houston).

Total cost for those driving from Belize City on the 14th= $600+
~$300-800 (rt to Belize City from Houston).

Remember the airfare from Houston of $300-800 is an estimate and could be more or less depending on the final arrangements. As of August 2016 it appears that Southwest will continue flying into Belize City, which will greatly reduce the cost from the past. The exact fare for May 2017 has not been posted, but it appears it may 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.

 

*Specific Costs Not included In the Above*:

Lodging costs for nights of May 21st – May 25, 2017 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 Dangriga the morning of the 15th.

Transportation other than the round trip costs from Houston to Punta Gorda and return to Houston. (the above assumes in-country van rental for three vehicles from May 14th through May 21st and if some of you decide to keep one of them or pick up another vehicle you would need to handle the rental after the 21st on your own.

This assumes return of the vehicles on the 21st. Transportation on or after May 21st, for example, a flight to San Pedro, will be “on your own” or what you can arrange with others in the group. For those flying, the $250 rt is figured on getting back to Belize International airport. If there is a non-stop flight from Punta Gorda to San Pedro, approximately $150 of the $250 round trip cost set aside in the budget that gets you back to Belize City, would go toward that. *Last year, this covered getting to San Pedro, but you have to make arrangements on your own for a flight back to Belize City from San Pedro.
* Round trip from Belize City to San Pedro is about $150. Pam Mueller will send you information on this cost as soon as you let her know your itinerary. *The vans will return to Belize City on Thursday morning May 21st, and those wishing to ride overland will save some money in getting back to Belize City.*

In past years several have driven to San Ignacio (the western border of Belize) and into Guatemala to visit the ruins at Tikal and the old Spanish town of Flores. (I plan to do that again this year.) The cost of this part of the trip will be about $350: $40 day in lodging and meals, $30 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), $30 to help with gas and vehicle rental, and miscellaneous costs.) The group going to Guatemala will stay in San Ignacio on
5/21/2017 at Casa Blanca and at La Casa De Don David’s in El Remate, Guatemala (lacasadedondavid.com) through the night of May 24th, 2017.

Flights

For those flying from Houston on May 14, 2017

According to the Southwest Airlines website, for those flying from Houston on May 14, 2017, you need to get the Southwest Airline flight that leaves Houston Hobby at 2:20 pm and arrives in Belize City at 3:45 pm, Belize time, flight number: Southwest Flight 827. The lower cost and the two free checked bags will make the savings significant.)

The return flight is Southwest Flight 1013, leaving Belize City at 5:40 pm, arriving Houston Hobby 8:15 pm.

For those flying with the main group on May 14th from Houston

Also for those flying with the main group on May 14th 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.

Additional Detail

Note that flight arrangements to and from Belize City from the US or elsewhere for May 14th and May 25th, 2017 are your responsibility. If you fly in with the group leaving from Houston Hobby on May 14th, you will need to check one bag and allow one bag for of the 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 12 people to check one medical trunk as a second bag or pay a premium of $100 for each extra trunk.

Most of the group usually returns to the US on May 25th, but this is up to personal preference and schedules and it is possible to return to Houston on May 21st, 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 11 am. Several have done this in the past.

For those flying in on May 15th or 16th

For those flying in on May 15th or 16th, 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 21st. We must have exact flight arrangements nailed down by March 1, 2017, 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. 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 14th, get the medical trunks into the country, and pick up the vans. They will meet with Ruth McDonald, the director of primary health care missions, and our guides at noon on Monday, May 15th. If you cannot fly from Houston to Belize City with the main group, just be in Belize City by 4:30 pm on May 14th so you can catch a ride with the main group in the vans on the way to Dangriga for the first night, May 14th.

We will pick up those flying in on the 15th or 16th at the airport in Punta Gorda and will all spend the nights of the 15th through the 20th at Sea Front Inn in Punta Gorda.

The group costs will cover most round trip expenses from Belize City to Punta Gorda, including ground transportation through the 21st back to Belize City/Houston, group meals for the evening meals of May 14th – 20th and breakfast and lunch on the 15th, including one night’s lodging in Dangriga on the 14th, the nights at Sea Front Inn from May 15th through May 20th.

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 21st through return to Houston on May 25th, 2017). (Many buy lunch and breakfast supplies in Dangriga the morning of the 15th so they will not have to carry so much food on the plane.)

Tentative Agenda

Today
Send me an email if you’re interested in coming along
December 15, 2016
Deposit – $200 group expenses due to Pam Warren Mueller, Treasurer. Deposit payment generates an application form.
January 1, 2017
Completed application mailed to mcnellie@mcnellie.com
January 8, 2017
Notification of acceptance of the group of 26 for Project Belize 2017. Deposits will be returned to those who are not part of the 26 selected for the 2017 trip.
February 15, 2017
$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, or (a total of $600 including the 200 deposit) for those traveling on the 14th and picking up the vans. Or $400 plus $250 ($650) for the in-country flights for those flying in on the 15th or 16th or flying home the 21th.
By February 15, 2017
Have purchased your own airfare round trip to Belize City. Make sure your application is approved before making your flight arrangements. Double check your flights to ensure they are for arrival in Belize City on May 14, 2017, and depart on May 25th, 2017 and fit with the travel times noted in this letter.
April 19th, 2017
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 7, 2017 Sunday
1:30 PM – Afternoon Packing Medication Party at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 904 North Street, Nacogdoches, TX – Bring friends to help.
May 14, 2017 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 15th or 16th, Monday or Tuesday
Balance of group travels to Belize City, and flies by small plane, regular service to Punta Gorda. Entire group spends night at Sea Front Inn from the 15th through the 20th.
May 16th, Tuesday
Group free day (Cave tours, Blue Creek, Rio Blanco, swimming, Lubaantun ruins which are about 30 minutes from the hotel), while some visit villages to make arrangements for clinics.
May 17, Wednesday
First work day
May 18, Thursday
Second work day
May 19, Friday
Third work day
May 20, Saturday
Fourth work day, hold board meeting that evening.
May 21, 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 21st your choice.
May 22, Monday
Free day, spend night your choice.
May 23, Tuesday
Free day, spend night your choice.
May 24, Wednesday
Free day, spend night your choice.
May 25, Thursday
Return 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 19th, 2017 in the cafeteria at to go over any last minute details. You do not have to be at this meeting. I 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.

Hotels

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 too: http://www.sanpedroholiday.com/

Their 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.

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 for the medications and dental supply expenses. We need about $4000 to buy necessary medications. This year we are collecting about $50 each as part of group expenses to help defray costs of medications, see above in budget. The more funds donated the less of this will be needed and Pam will do a reconciliation at the end of the trip.

Kit List

Click here for the list of recommended items

Fundraising & Medication

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 7, 2017*, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. Bring friends to help.

 

Amazon SmileAlso 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 2017
There will be at least three significant hikes involved in the clinics served by Project Belize 2017. 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 sign 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

________________________________
Project Belize 2017 Participant

For pictures of past years trips and more information on our group, take a look around the site!