While many of us seek activities to fill our children’s calendars and minds for Black History Month in February, fewer remember to celebrate in March, for Women’s History Month. I am also guilty. It seems that only every couple years I remember that March is Women’s History Month and do something special. The acknowledgement of March as the designated time to celebrate Women’s History commenced in 1987 in response to a petition from the National Women’s History Project.
Before this month comes to an end, take the time to research women history makers with your children. The women listed are from different points in history and have made varying contributions. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, or meant to relay the “most important” contributions, it is a start. Please comment with the woman your family chose to research first and what you found out about her.
10 Women to Research for Women’s History Month
2. Yaa Asantewaa
3. Ida B. Wells
4. Fannie Lou Hamer
5. Dr. Wangari Maathai
6. Elaine Brown
7. Mae Jemison
8. Winnie Mandela
9. Queen Mother Moore
10. Alice Walker
Who would you add to the list?
I look forward to your comments about who your family studied and what you learned.
Love and Light,
I pray that you and your family are doing well. My son and I are doing well in Belize. While here, I’ve been volunteering at a clinic, homeschooling, working on my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, writing new books, and enjoying as much sunshine as possible. We also traveled back to Houston for the holidays to do some book signings and workshops for our home community. I’d like to commit more to blogging this year because I have sooo much to share, so hold me accountable to that, okay? Feel free to e-mail me through the contact page anytime with questions or blog topic requests. Your support is welcomed.
This February, I’d like to share some suggestions with you for how your children can make history instead of simply learning about it. Here are 10 ideas; choose one or more and get started right away.
1. Write a letter and/or video letter to an elected official about a topic of concern.
One of the major political concerns currently on the radar is the restriction of certain travelers entering the U.S. from 7 Asian and African countries, known colloquially as the Muslim Ban. Can your students(s) read about the nuances of this Executive Order, what measures have been taken to combat it, and how it relates to the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Afterwards, can he/she/they write a well thought out open letter or open video letter to the President or key federal officials?
2. Make a commitment to environmentalism and inspire others to do the same.
Although current political happenings are quite frightening, the state of the environment globally and the effects of new environmentally neglectful/abusive legislation are much more dismaying, as they will affect the health and life spans of millions, if we cannot take positive action. Can your student(s) make a commitment to learn about what is taking place worldwide regarding the environment this year using internet research and be a personal ambassador for Mother Earth? Immediate steps to take are practicing “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. Your student(s) can also lead community clean up projects, DIY natural cleaning product workshops, and tree planting days. Maybe he/she/they can also secure donations of reusable bags from a local grocery store or company and distribute them in the community. Be an environmental history maker like Dr. Wangari Maathai.
3. Start a business.
My son’s entrepreneurship currently includes writing books and teaching technology classes. He is working on teaching online classes as well, and should have them launched by fall of 2017. What are your children passionate about? How can they turn that into a business? What are the needs of people in your neighborhood or social circle? How can your student(s) address those needs with a business? There are free online tutorials available for everything from photography to solar panel building to architectural design. Have your student(s) to commit to learning a skill and turning that skill into a viable business this Black History Month.
4. Design an invention.
What do George Washington Carver, Madame C.J. Walker, Lewis Latimer, and Sarah Boone have in common? All of them probably never heard of “Black History Month”, yet they made Black history. They were bold, curious, and creative enough to design tools to solve problems they saw in their daily lives, communities, or in the world. Have your student(s) brainstorm on problems in your household (i.e. too many shoes by the front door, popsicles don’t freeze fast enough, shower gets cold after 2 people shower, etc.), problems in your community, and/or problems in the world. After brainstorming problems, have him/her/them to conceptualize at least one invention to solve a problem. Then, draw and label a prototype. From there, if the invention is viable, your student(s) can 3D design and 3D print the prototype, apply for a patent, raise funds, and put it into production! Why not?
5. Plant a community herb garden.
With new challenges in healthcare availability, many are stressed about how they will access doctors. The good news is that many common ailments can be prevented or treated with nutrition and herbs. Can your student(s) make a commitment to learn about herbal medicine this month and then plant an herb garden that is 1.) labeled with the purpose of each herb and possible drug interactions, and 2.) open free or at a minimal cost to the community?
6. Get attuned to Reiki 1 or Ra Sekhi level one.
Another modality of natural health is energy healing. Even children can provide energy healing to themselves and their family, although I wouldn’t recommend that they provide it to a large number of people until they have a greater understanding of how to protect themselves and discard energies picked up during sessions. Seek out a Reiki or Ra Sekhi master in your local area or view an online class together to begin to learn more about the divine gift of energy healing. You can also purchase this book to study together, Ra Sehki Kemetic Reiki Level One (https://www.amazon.com/Ra-Sekhi-Kemetic-Reiki-Level/dp/1478172401).
7. Start a needed youth community organization.
Does your community need a youth soccer team to stay fit or a nutrition club to make healthy smoothies and veggie burgers together? What about a Mother Earth club with regular meetings to address neighborhood environmental issues? Your student(s) can be the creators of a needed youth organization and even secure free space at a school, church, park, etc. to have regular meetings.
8. Solve a problem that affects 5 or more people in your neighborhood.
Does it get cold in your area? Do elders in the community need blankets or space heaters when it’s cold? Does it flood in your area? Could residents benefit from a meeting to create a community flood plan including coupons for free swim classes sponsored by a local organization? Can your student(s) think of an issue that affects 5 or more people in your neighborhood and conceptualize/implement a solution for it such as the ones above? It is entirely possible.
9. Start a valuable campaign.
People independently start inspirational or problem-solving campaigns all the time, such as Alicia Keys’ No Makeup Movement to support natural beauty and self-love or Dr. Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement to plant tree and support women’s economic empowerment. Can your children start a valuable campaign in your area, nationally, or globally, such as a Drink Water campaign, Eat Fruit Daily campaign, Change Your Oil Every Three Months campaign, Bike to Work campaign or other beneficial movement? Brainstorm, create a slogan, design a flyer, and then push that movement!
10. Write and publish your first book.
Do your children love to write poetry, fiction, or non-fiction? Do you have a natural artist, fact-finder, imaginative dreamer, or creative genius in your household? Now, with the power of self-publishing tools such as CreateSpace or Smashwords, your little superstar(s) can become published authors! Keep in mind that you can utilize public domain images to simplify the internal image(s)/cover design process. Research the self-publishing process and get started today! Make history!
Thank you for reading. Please comment on which step your student(s) will take this month to make history. Love and light from my family to yours.
I pray that you and your families are doing well. My son and I are doing well, getting ready to visit Houston for Kwanzaa. In a little over a week, we will have been in Belize for 3 months. Wow, time flies! Over this time, I have been blessed with more inner space to allow the Divine to flow through me. In the past 90 days, I’ve written more than I have written all year. Also, we have been homeschooling and I’ve been knocking out graduate school assignments online for my Master’s in Education. Some parents have been messaging me and asking me “how?”. My concise answer is “simplify”. We don’t need as much as we think we need. When we decide to consume less, own less, and take up less space, we can educe and produce more. When you want to do something that seems BIG, ask yourself, what is the easiest way that I can do this? Then, do it that way. It will still be hard/challenging, lol. Focus on the experience and not on having all of the pieces figured out each day. Be flexible and patient with yourself. If you need help, ask for help. That is my advice for braving any new venture in creating the lives we want.
With that update given — exciting news! I have a new book available for your family!
Getting High is a mental, physical, and spiritual guide for melanated teens who are ready to become their best selves. Many teenagers fall into traps in this vulnerable stage of their lives that affect them negatively for years to come. Avoid the traps and empower your life with Getting High. No matter if you are a teen, a parent, or simply a person seeking guidance, once you apply the principles in this book, you will never be the same.
I am so excited about what this book will provide for our youth! If you have teenagers (or would like to read it for yourself), I would like for you to have a copy, so I am going to run a CONTEST! This contest is a SCAVENGER HUNT.
The first seven people to comment with a chapter title from Getting High will receive a free e-copy of the book. You will have to visit the Amazon page, click Look Inside, and view the Table of Contents to name a chapter. You can’t name a chapter that someone on the thread has already named. Readddddyyyyyy… go!
See you in the comments! Message me if you have any questions about our semester, travels, or experiences.
Love and Light,
Truth – Always tell the truth.
Justice – Always stand up for what is right. If you see someone doing something wrong, stop them or tell an adult.
Harmony – We breathe because trees give us oxygen. Everything on earth is in harmony. Take care of nature.
Balance – Don’t eat too much or watch too much TV. Always have balance.
Order – Respect your parents. Respect your elders. One day, you will be an adult and you will want to be respected too.
Reciprocity – Be nice to people and make friends with people who are also nice to you.
Propriety – If you are at school, know that it is time to learn, not play. Be on your best behavior everywhere you go.
- Nikala Asante, Character Building for African Centered Scholars, Grades 1 – 4
One of the tricky parts of homeschooling is adjusting our curriculum to remain student-centered. If the work is too easy, too challenging, or not in the best format for the child, we have to go back to the drawing board. Otherwise, we may be giving assignments that are not engaging or not being retained.
Last semester, we used Time4Learning for our core classes (Math, ELA, Science, etc…), Kamali Academy’s curriculum for Africana History ideas, and a mix-mash of other resources. We belonged to a homeschool collective in Houston where my son was also able to learn Gardening, Sewing, Yoga, and Martial Arts.
In September, we moved to San Ignacio, Belize. For the first 5 weeks or so, we continued to use Time4Learning, also spending a lot of time outdoors, going on low-cost excursions, cooking, playing chess, watching movies, and just bonding. We have also had some fun day trips; for example, we caught a bus to Chetumal, Mexico a few weeks ago for around $25USD. I am also in graduate school online with the University of Houston, assisting with Instructional Design for Kamali Academy, and working on some new books, but it is a lot easier to manage my time here. I always seem to have more time than tasks.
My 12-year-old son, Hotep, loves to create video games in Scratch (scratch.mit.edu), so he has been spending at least 2 hours a day just programming games, alone or with friends. There are two other boys about his age on our street that he hangs out with every day. He is also working on writing his first fiction book, a chapter book about a boy with unique shapeshifting powers.
Since we live in the rainforest, the internet connection is sometimes unreliable. In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to buy textbooks and workbooks for the year and bring them rather than to depend on daily internet service. For the past few weeks, I meditated on how to solve this issue. At least 2 days of each week, Hotep is either unable to access Time4Learning or it runs terribly slow, resulting in him spending twice as long to complete his assignments. Today, I cancelled our Time4Learning subscription and designed a new curriculum for the rest of the school year that involves downloaded books that can be accessed offline, active time outdoors daily, and fun educational activities.
I would like to share our curriculum outline with you to get your feedback and maybe also help you through your process.
- Math – downloaded 7th grade math textbook from ck12.org
- Grammar/Vocabulary/Language Arts – downloaded Middle School Grammar textbook/workbook from vanlueschool.org
- Writing/Publishing – downloaded composition textbook from ck12.org for; also working on fiction book and self-publishing completed book of poetry
- Typing – freetypinggame.net
- Ourstory/US History – Classical Africa by Dr. Molefi Asante (e-book)/A Young Peoples History of the United States by Howard Zinn (e-book)
- Science- learning about Belizean ecology outdoors (helper site: http://www.ourbelizevacation.com/ecology-in-belize.html); also downloaded Life Science textbook from ck12.org
- Technology – Video Game Programming and Animation using Scratch (scratch.mit.edu)
- Physical Education – 30 min together per day outdoor exercise/play
- Spanish 15 – 30 minutes together per day using Berlitz Essential Spanish (print) and Pimsleur Spanish (audio)
- Weekly Field Trips Friday – i.e. nature walks, bus rides to other cities, Cahal Pech, Belize Zoo, Jaguar Reserve, etc…
The structure of our courses will be a combination of guided and independent work. Ourstory and US History will be on alternating days, Monday through Thursday. On Wednesdays, we will work on book publishing rather than Science and Technology. I had gotten away from spelling tests, so I will be resuming giving him spelling words on Monday and spelling tests on Fridays. If we have a short field trip some Fridays, we will also do some fun learning activities and watch a movie or a documentary.
We have about a month and a half left in this semester, so I will work out the kinks of our new program during that time. What are you using for your children’s curriculum this semester? Do you have any ideas of what we might add? Have you ever had to adjust your curriculum mid-semester? Please comment with feedback and questions.
Love and Light,
I pray that you and your family are doing well. My son and I are doing fantastic. One of the main activities taking my time right now is attending graduate school full time pursuing my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Learning, Design, and Technology. I’m excited to report that I am learning so much! I will be sharing what I learn with you in ways that can benefit you and your children/students as well.
Today, I would like to share two resources with you that I have found valuable. The first is a YouTube video that you will need to watch with pen and paper. Although the video is less than an hour long, the narrator manages to share over 50 ways to utilize technology in your classroom. The video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj7QQM-ZMWc&feature=youtu.be
The second resource that I would like to share is a content heavy website promoting 21st century learning, p21.org. On this site, you will find valuable research on how educators are using technology to help students practice the 4C’s – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. A set of tools that I found especially useful was the 21st Century Skill Maps. They include specific examples about how technology can be used in each subject area to accomplish the 4C’s on different grade levels.
Please enjoy these resources and let me know how they are of benefit to you.
Love and Light,
Many homeschooling parents have expressed to me that they would like to be able to have the freedom to work from anywhere int the world or earn extra income from home. Also, we want our children to learn skills that allow them to earn their own money. Here are five real ways that you can begin to do that, along with how I personally got into these fields and how much you can expect to make.
I hope that your school year is off to a great start. My son and I are enjoying our semester so far. We are officially commencing formal lessons on September 1 this year, but we have been doing some fun educational activities such as book publishing, video game creation, and DIY technology projects (such as making a smartphone speaker from a toilet paper roll and two cups).
We have not left the country yet and have delayed our departure to mid-September. While we are still here, I have been participating in a number of local events. For example, this past weekend, Houston activist Deric Muhammad hosted a free seminar for youth titled Digital Entrepreneurship. The core goal of the seminar was to empower urban youth to utilize their phones and computers to engage in productive and profitable activities (rather than for wasting time or over-sharing).
As a contribution to this event, I wrote up five ways that I actually do use the internet to make money. If you enjoy this post, let me know in the comments, and I will do a part two to share more. Many homeschooling parents have expressed to me that they would like to be able to have the freedom to work from anywhere int the world or earn extra income from home. Also, we want our children to learn skills that allow them to earn their own money. Here are five real ways that you can begin to do that, along with how I personally got into these fields and how much you can expect to make.
Five Ways That I Have Actually Earned Money Online
With a quick Google search, you can find thousands of legitimate methods for earning money online ranging from taking online surveys to serving as a virtual assistant. Some of these avenues are more effective than others and some pay much more than others. I would like to offer five ways that I have actually earned significant amounts of money online. The last time that I worked for a company full-time was February 2016. Currently, I work 100% online and have been able to support myself, my 12-year-old son, maintain consistent volunteer work, operate on a flexible schedule, and travel internationally freely.
How I Got Into It: When I was 19 years old, I began teaching myself graphic design using Adobe PhotoShop. To help facilitate this process, I interned with a tee-shirt and design company in Greenspoint Mall for about 6 months. I was able to earn a little money from the internship, but more importantly, gain experience. By the time that I was 20 years old, I had begun taking graphic design clients on my own. My first clients were friends who needed fliers or album covers, and could only afford to pay $20 or $30. Now, ten years later, I continue to do graphic design part-time. You can also go to school for Graphic Design, but it is not really required.
How Much $$$: My fees range from $50 – $125 for simple designs using stock images or provided photos (logos, business cards, event fliers, etc.), but the cost can rise much higher for original art or complex designs. This is a part-time gig for me, but if you start your own Graphic Design Company, you can make $200 – $300/day easily once you build up your client base.
How I Get Clients: My clients come from word of mouth mainly. I am also signed on as an Independent Contractor as the graphic designer for two Black owned marketing companies. If you start your own Graphic Design company, you can advertise through cards, fliers, social media, your website, and paid print or web ads.
How I Got Into It: When I was in high school, I was intrigued by the web. The web really had just gotten popular around that time, and I wanted to be able to interact with it in every way possible. My first site was a Geocities Blog that I set up to share some of my poetry. Over the years, I continued blogging on various sites. Eventually, I started my own website using the content management system WordPress. As time went on, I got more ideas for new sites, and created them on my own using existing systems such as WordPress, Wix, and GoDaddy. I recognized that if I paid someone to create my website each time that I got a new idea, I would end up spending thousands of dollars a year on projects that I could not be sure if I wanted to commit to long-term. By designing the sites myself, I only spent $18 or so per site (for the domain name and hosting). Once I became very proficient at creating websites, others began asking me if I could design their sites. Currently, I design websites part-time.
How Much $$$: I personally have charged from $99 – $450 for a website, depending on the complexity needed. Websites can range from $99 up to thousands of dollars, depending on what your client needs and the budget for their company. For example, if you have a web design contract with Coca-Cola, you will charge them several thousand dollars. On the other hand, if you are doing a website for your cousin, you can charge a quick $99.
How I Get Clients: Word of mouth and social media works fine for me. However, if you want to start a Web Design company, you would want to put together a portfolio and advertise.
How I Got Into It: I love writing; however, it is an area in which many people struggle. People need assistance with writing proposals, resumes, blog posts, content for magazines, essays, books, and more. I assist in all of these areas currently, on a part-time basis. My first paid writing gig was in high school. A fellow student paid me $30 to write an essay for him. That same year, a teacher who was impressed with my writing skills paid me $180 to edit his book manuscript. Since then, I have continued to not only write for myself (I am a published author with books available for sale on Amazon), but to provide writing services for a fee for others. I also edit for clients who just want to polish their current writing.
How Much $$$: Writing projects that I have taken on personally have ranged from $20 (for resume assistance) to $2,000 (full book assistance).
How I Get Clients: All word of mouth for me here; however, you can advertise through social media, your personal website, business card, advertisements, etc.
How I Got Into It: I published my first book in 2012, a short collection of my poetry and stories – Graffiti Nommo. After mastering this process, I was able to publish four more personal collections as well as facilitating the publishing process for others.
How Much $$$: For someone with a finished manuscript who simply needs help with the publishing process, I charge no more than $300. I also teach publishing classes where I walk others through the publishing process for only $50 – $100 per class.
How I Get Clients: Word of mouth and social media. However, if you want to start a publishing company, you can go through the full process of advertising through all mediums.
How I Got Into It: Outside of writing, publishing, and selling my own books, I have sold used books in the past for profit. I purchased books from the clearance section of Half Price Books or from other discount booksellers and sold them at a profit on Amazon.com. Also, I set up vending tables at local events and sold books.
How Much $$$: I make no less than $60 – $100 selling used books for a few hours at a local event, and $1 – $10 per book profit for selling used books online. I have made up to $300 in one day selling used books at a local event.
How I Get Clients: To sell used books on Amazon, you can do a bit of research on Google about how to set it all up. The clients are already there. To sell locally, you just need to show up, be personable, and have books that people want to buy.
How I Got Into It: I have always loved drawing and recently began painting (in 2009). My first paid art project, if I recall correctly, was a coloring book about the Ancestors in 2009. After this, I illustrated a young adult book, Carved in Stone, in 2010. Also, I have served as an Art Instructor for a tutoring company, for local afterschool programs, and for local summer programs. Once I learned to paint, I sold my first painting in 2015.
How Much $$$: For the young adult book, I drew about 20 black and white images plus a color cover, and was paid $800. I have sold my original paintings for as little as $60 and for as much as $500. All of the arrangements were made online.
How I Get Clients: Word of mouth mainly for me; however, you can start an art website where you advertise and sell your art. You can also advertise on your social media pages. Are you good at drawing or painting? Can you learn these skills? Start selling your art. You can also take pictures of your paintings to sell them as “prints”, in addition to selling the originals.
Thank you for reading. Again, please let me know if this is helpful to you. If it is, I will share more. Also, check out Dr. Samori Camara’s entrepreneurship class, The Warrior Startup for more great info to move towards location independence.
Love and Light,
We have returned safely to Houston from Belize, and we have exciting news. But, I will tell you about that later. First, I would like to share with you about our time in Belize.
My son and I were invited to Punta Gorda by the Wagiya Foundation Belize. We were hosted because I served as a fundraiser for a project with Wagiya to assist the Garifuna community of Seine Bight with aesthetic revitalization in order to boost their tourism economy.
We flew in from Haiti to Belize’s international airport, with a layover in Miami, and then caught a local flight to Punta Gorda. Our local flight was covered due to my service work, but it would have cost us each about $100 – 200US, depending on the season, to fly from Belize International to Punta Gorda. Another option, which we employed on the way back, is to take the local bus. Catching a taxi to the bus station is $25US from the airport, and then the bus trip is about $12US per person to Punta Gorda. The flight was pretty short, but the bus ride takes 6 – 8 hours.
My son and I really enjoyed both the airport and the local flight. The airport lounge featured long wooden benches with a tilt that allowed you to learn back in your seat, rather than upright metal chairs. It was small and enclosed enough that I could walk around while my son sat, without feeling paranoid. There were also little stores inside with local food and crafts for sale. We ordered two large cinnamon buns, cooked from scratch, while waiting on our plane.
Once inside of the small plane, we settled into the very back seat, joking about how we were having this movie star experience on a ‘hood budget. As the plane rose and dipped with the wind, our stomachs tossed and tumbled, but it was never so bad as to make us sick. It felt like riding on a very non-intimidating rollercoaster, or more fittingly, in a flying car. There were only 10 seats on the plane, so we bonded with the other passengers as we appreciated the amazing scenery.
Once we arrived in Punta Gorda, we met our host and took a taxi to her beautiful farm. My son and I shared a one bed cabin there surrounded by fruit trees of every kind, healing herbs, salad greens, and fragrant flowers. As far as cons – a creek ran behind our cabin which, while scenic, attracted plenty of mosquitoes. There were also howling monkeys in the rainforest around us. They do not harm you, but they make a horrific noise that sounds like the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park growling menacingly. If I was not warned about them beforehand, I would have been scared out of my mind the first night hearing their growls.
Over the first few days, as we got acclimated to the land, linked up with our expat friends, and met new friends, we also got absolutely torn up by mosquitoes and sand flies. Although I was using my same homemade mosquito spray (lavender and citronella) that had been very effective in Haiti, these Belizean creatures were swarming their way through it. Besides that minor inconvenience, everything was sweet as a ripe mango. We didn’t do anything too high energy on the first few days, as we were still quite tired from sweating and working hard in Haiti. We toured around the town, ate lots of fresh fish, vegetables, and mango, swam in the ocean, and spent time with friends. I also took my son to a Garifuna drum class.
On the third or fourth day, we headed up to Seine Bight by bus to meet with the townspeople and plan the painting project and market day. We stayed with friends on the beach in Plascencia and I plotted my revenge on the Punta Gorda biting insects committee.
We had a lovely time in Plascencia, having deep conversations with friends, eating, swimming, and enjoying the scenery. I also researched adjustments to my homemade mosquito spray to protect me and my son from future attacks. The solution was to use an oil based repellent to keep the sand flies away, and keep the citronella in for the mosquitoes. So, I mixed natural citronella oil with store brand Baby Oil and it worked! We only got a few more bites over the course of the whole trip.
On the street in Plascencia, vendors sold fresh fruit juice in little baggies for $0.50US, as well as many other little affordable drinks and snacks.
From Plascencia, we caught the public bus back to Punta Gorda, bringing a couple of friends who flew in from the U.S. to tour and volunteer with us. In Punta Gorda, we learned about local herbs, helped with development of the future rental spaces and kitchen at my host’s farm, observed local wildlife, learned about Belizean culture and history, ate a lot more delicious food, swam in the ocean more, and met many new friends.
At one location in town, A Piece of Ground Hostel, we met a lovely homeschooling family from New York. My son enjoyed playing with this couple’s children so much that I began coming here daily for pancakes and tamarind juice, just to let them play.
The food there was amazing, and they had many vegetarian options. For example, they boasted 2 distinct veggie burgers, the Afro-Burger, made of black eyed peas and chopped vegetables, and the Black Bean Burger, served with or without cheese. As far as meat, we only eat fish, but they also had chicken, prepared in several different entrees. The best part is, the owner, Jama, will gladly inform you on how to take a “Guerilla Tour” of the surrounding areas, saving you thousands of dollars.
We took our own “guerilla” style tour one day to Rio Blanco waterfall. The tour brochures offered this excursion for $85 per person. My son and I and one friend rode the public bus there from Punta Gorda for about $3US per person (an hour or so trip). Once we got there, I was prepared to pass for Belizean (don’t judge, lol – I was encouraged to do so by the locals), but no one was there to collect our payment. We walked down the trail to the waterfall, enthused by the bright red flowers, magically blue butterflies, and verdant green tree branches encompassing us.
No picture can do the Rio Blanco waterfall justice. The water was perfectly clear. I could see miniature yellow and orange fish swimming around me, exploring the floral designs on my bathing suit. Tiny white flowers floated into the water from nearby trees, guided by the breeze. It was just perfect. I took a mental snapshot to use for future meditation. We swam for a couple of hours, giddy from the overload of nature and beauty. Our friend jumped from the high cliff into the water, but we both chickened out. Maybe next time.
While in Punta Gorda, we also made bus trips back to Seine Bight to plan the revitalization project and hold business development workshops. We helped the residents to define which products and services that they wanted to offer to tourists and set prices that were fair to them and the future visitors. Seine Bight is not a tourist town currently, so they are really excited about transitioning to offering their goods and services to incomers. It will really help the struggling economy.
Once everything was planned and beginning to be set in motion, we left southern Belize and the Wagiya Foundation to bus up to San Ignacio. The project is still continuing as a partnership between Wagiya and the people of Seine Bight.
In San Ignacio, we rented a cabin on Smith Family Farm, a Black owned compound where several of our friends are living long term. While there, we ate the delicious local food, drank fresh fruit juice, and spent time with our friends. My son got a lot of play time in and I got a lot of rest and relaxation.
Through talking to my friends there, I found that they were able to maintain a very low cost of living while enjoying a peaceful life. My son woke up each morning picking mangoes and playing with other children outdoors. It was beautiful. Since all of my work is currently online and I do not have any pressing obligations in Houston, I made the decision to pack up our belongings and move to Belize!
I will still be homeschooling and blogging while there, but will be able to offer experience as an African Centered homeschooler living in Belize, rather than the U.S. I have so much more to say about this move and I’m sure that you have many more questions, but I will save it for another post. This one is already quite long. Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for this major move. I will write you again soon. Thank you for reading.
Love and Light,
How are you and your family? My son and I are doing well. We have been out of the United States since June 5 traveling in Haiti and Belize. In Haiti, I served as the coordinator for a medical service trip via University of Houston. Now, we are in Belize, where I served as the U.S. fundraiser for a project with the Wagiya Foundation to assist the Garifuna community of Seine Bight with aesthetic revitalization in order to boost their tourism economy.
What I would like to discuss with you today is what it was like for my 12 year old son in both of these environments and how I managed his travel as a parent. Many of us feel super worried about taking our children to “developing” countries because of all of the issues that could possibly arise. What if they get sick? What if there is trouble? Is there risk of kidnapping? What if they hate the whole experience? All of these are valid questions that parents have when considering taking their children to a “Third World” country to volunteer.
To prepare for our trip to Haiti, I boosted my son’s immune system with Kids’ Echinacea compound and chewable probiotics. I was also careful not too let him eat too much junk food (i.e. vegetarian pizza, greasy chips, etc…) or consume too much dairy in the weeks before our departure. Mosquito borne illnesses are more likely to affect you if you have a low immune system.
Also, it’s important not to weigh your body down with a bunch of toxins right before a trip to a country where you will not be eating so many processed foods. If you do, your body will purge once you start eating mango every morning. On the other hand, if you are eating a pretty clean diet at home, you are much less likely to contract any illnesses or stomach viruses abroad.
In addition to watching his diet and using herbal prevention, I also made sure that he had a big noticeable water bottle to make sure he is getting enough water each day. We chose a bottle with a unique design so that it would not get mixed up with anyone else’s bottle. Once we arrived in Haiti, we were picked up at the airport by contacts I trusted and escorted to the non-profit compound where we resided, Haiti Communitere (HC).
HC provides a safe space in Port-au-Prince for international volunteers with 24 hour security, clean water, electricity, and wifi. HC also has a great community garden, fruit trees growing across the whole property, and lovely hammocks for resting. Each day, I organized activities for the pre-med students traveling with me with help from on-the-ground contacts. Outside of doing some fun stuff like visiting the museum and successful grassroots nonprofits, my group volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity Malnutrition Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital Wound Care, Orphanage Lillevois, an orphanage/school I can’t recall the name of that specialized in serving special needs children, and a few other locations.
We brought infant formula, children’s vitamins, diapers, prenatal vitamins, medicines, money for food donations, and many other necessities from the United States to distribute to grassroots organizations that were running low. In addition, we organized 2 clinic days with both American and Haitian medical staff. Lastly, we hosted a field day and planted a permaculture garden for an orphanage where many children previously suffered from malnutrition. We have been supplementing these same children for over a year and they are no longer malnourished, thank God.
In order to keep my son safe while accomplishing our trip goals, we participated in all of the excursions, all of the volunteer activities with children, some medical related outings, all of the planting, and none of the clinic days. I did not feel comfortable having him around sick people for full days in the sun, and that was fine. If you are planning a service related trip with your children, I recommend following your intuition as to what may be fine for your little ones and what may be overload. Also, be sure to keep an eye on how they are feeling and make sure they are drinking enough water. There were a few times when we got a little dehydrated and needed to put electrolyte tablets in our water. These are important to bring whenever you travel to a place where you may naturally sweat a lot.
While volunteering is a blessing in itself, I would like to share some fun highlights from our time in Port au Prince. There is a great cafe in the Delmas 33 area run by the Apparent Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing Haitian parents with jobs so that they do not have to give their children up to orphanages. Many “orphaned” children are just children whose parents do not have enough money to feed them. If the parents have income, the families can stay together. In the Apparent Project’s cafe, they served smoothies, specialty coffees, slushies, pastries, pizza, and more. They also have music, Foosball, and a big chess board. My son had a great time there.
Also, you can tour the Apparent Project and see how parents are making dolls, clay cups, tote bags, custom tee shirts, and jewelry to support their families. My son loved learning about how to make necklaces from recycled cereal boxes. He also enjoyed seeing how the clay cups were formed by hand. Now, he wants to take a ceramics class.
Another highlight was having regular lunches at the UN base. They serve food and drinks from all over the world at affordable prices. It was refreshing to go there and have cold lemonade or ice cream after a long hot morning, and meet new people from exciting global destinations.
My little one also really enjoyed the Haitian National Museum, taking a car to the top of the mountain in Petionville, and playing with the children at the orphanages. We did not go to the beach on this trip to Haiti, but that is normally a really nice excursion too. Some of the best private beaches are Kaliko or Wahoo Bay, but if you want to save a little money, you can go to a public beach like Taino Beach.
During our free time, I found a balance between assignments to help my son process the trip, such as research and journaling, and allowing him space to just play games on his device or talk to his friends back in the U.S. on Google Hangout. On any volunteer trip, it’s important to remember that children are children and need room to just have fun.
I will post again soon with updates about how our trip has been in Belize so far and what the highlights are for my son. What other questions do you have about Haiti, or about keeping your children safe and happy while traveling? I look forward to hearing them!
Peace and blessings!
I pray that you and your family are doing well. How is your summer coming along so far? Ours is progressing beautifully. This summer, we are volunteering for a month and a half in Haiti and Belize. Currently, we are in Haiti for 2 weeks, as I am the trip coordinator for the University of Houston medical service trip to Haiti. Afterwards, God willing, we will spend one month in Belize assisting with a community revitalization project, in which I served as a fundraiser from the US, and will serve as a documentarian and tourist coordinator on the ground.
While I know that you would love to read more about what we are doing in Haiti and Belize, I am going to first elaborate on how you can plan a trip abroad this summer on a budget. In the next post, I will let you in on all of the details of our activities.
Many families want to travel internationally, but find the possibility prohibitive because of cost. Here are ten tips to keep costs low and plan a great trip.
1. Choose a country with a low cost flight from your country of residence.
This summer, we are traveling to Belize. There are flights Houston to Belize throughout the year for $250 – $350 round trip, per person, which is much cheaper than traveling to most Central American countries. You can also travel cheaply this season to Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and Dominican Republic. It would be wise to explore the travel warnings, safety, and ease of ground transportation of each country before you purchase a flight there.
2. Look into hostels and Airbnb. Be sure to read reviews!
I have yet to utilize Airbnb, but I have many friends that have used it with great luck. I’m not a fan of couchsurfing, but if I can rent a couple of rooms or a whole house from a family and see lots of reviews beforehand, I would feel more confident about it. I do, however, use hostels and nonprofits quite frequently for international housing. Right now, my son and I are at Haiti Communitere, a nice international hostel-style nonprofit where our beds, including 2 vegetarian meals each day, are only $25/night. We have electricity, WiFi, clean water, showers, and we get to meet lots of cool people everyday. When I was studying in France, I stayed in St. Christopher’s Hostel in Paris and Barcelona. Research your housing options in the country you plan to travel to, and while doing so, remember that hotels are not your only option.
3. Utilize grocery stores and a kitchen.
A great way to save on food while abroad is to prepare your own food. You can buy beans and rice, bread, peanut butter, jelly, and fruit, from a local grocery store, and save a ton on eating expenses. While I understand that you want to sample the cultural fare, you don’t have to sample it every day and every night. Meals abroad can easily be $10 per person, and for a family of four, or even two, that can add up very quickly. Also, look for sales while at home and stock up on nuts, Clif bars, and trail mix, to bring with you.
4. Organize a group to divide costs.
If you coordinate with another family who wants to travel to the same country, you can plan your itinerary together and split ground expenses. I always invite friends when I prepare to travel. It’s good to have extra set of eyes and hands, and extra contributions to the pot. Just make sure you choose someone you actually enjoy being around.
5. Serve internationally.
If you love helping people, then you can fund your trip through doing some type of needed service internationally. If there is a job associated with it, your flight and housing may be covered, as mine is with my current trip. However, on previous trips, I utilized either scholarships, grants, or crowdfunding (i.e.: CrowdRise, GoFundMe, or Fundly) to assist with costs. When you are doing work to make a difference, people will want to help you, and it’s great to bring your children along to share that experience. Check out idealist.org for jobs for people who love helping people.
6. Teach internationally.
You can teach internationally in various capacities. If you do not have any type of certification nor a 4 year degree, you can teach a subject like Physical Education for an international school. If you do have a degree and an TEFL or TESOL certification, you can work as an EFL (English as a foreign language) teacher in many countries. If you want to teach a core subject at an international American school for pay comparable to what you would make in the US, you will need either a 4 year degree, a teacher’s certification in your state, and 2 years teaching experience OR a 4 year degree, a master’s degree, and some teaching experience. If you are serious about getting a really great teaching position internationally, I recommend going to UNI’s (University of Northern Iowa’s) international teaching fair in February.
7. Lead a tour.
If you have experience traveling, and are ready to share that experience, you may decide to lead a tour abroad. You can advertise to escort parents and children to a country that you have traveled to before, to learn, serve, or have an adventure. For this service, you can charge a reasonable administrative fee that would cover costs for you and your child(ren). It could be a lot of fun! Be sure to have everyone sign a waiver that attests they are responsible for themselves and their children.
8. Travel with an existing tour.
Maybe you do not feel confident enough to lead a tour, but like the idea of being with a guide. Seach tour to (desired country), and throw in “children” or “kid friendly” to find a group that resonates with you. Packages often include airfare, housing, and food, and thus can help cuts costs and planning time.
9. Apply for a grant or scholarship.
If you are in school, or have already matriculated, but enjoy scholarship, you may be able to receive travel funding. If you are an adult undergraduate student, you can apply for scholarships such as Gilman to cover costs, and request to bring your child(ren), if it is manageable. For example, if you have older children or teenagers that could attend a day camp nearby while you are studying French in France, you could present this plan to Gilman with your request for funding. If you are in graduate school, you can apply for a Fulbright or Boren scholarship. As a professional, finished with school, you can still apply for certain Fulbright research grants in your field.
10. Workaway or WWOOF.
A few years ago, I signed up with workaway.info and began communicating with families and organizations internationally who were in need of someone with my skills and talents. Workaway is a site that connect families and orgs globally with individuals (often with children) who would like to work abroad, for short or long periods, in exchange for housing and food. A good match for homeschooling families, especially for single mothers with children, may be helping another family homeschool.
WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and consists of working on organic farms, in exchange for housing and food. You can often bring your children and this can be a cheaper way to travel. Keep in mind that this may be hard work and that the locations in which you are working may be away from all of the touristic attractions.
A hope this is a great start on your journey to spending a summer abroad with your children. Let me know if you have any questions (or comments). I look forward to hearing from you soon! Safe travels!
Love and Light,