Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holy Cross Anglican School and San Mateo Subdivision

Holy Cross Anglican Primary School

One reason we moved to Belize was because of all its natural beauty it has to offer.  The beautiful blue green Caribbean waters, lush green jungles, white sandy beaches and ancient Maya ruins. But, heading north across the bridge lies an area called San Mateo Subdivision and it one of the poorest areas on the island.  It is also where the Holy Cross Anglican School is located.

Yesterday I went to tour the Holy Cross Anglican School and the San Mateo Subdivision which was built within the mangrove swamps of Ambergris Caye.  I met with Lydia who is from Christchurch, New Zealand and she is in charge of giving the tours.  She also lives in this area.  She gave me a wonderful history of the school and the San Mateo area.  The school was founded in 2006 to provide an education to over 425 of the islands poorest children.  These children who use to just roam about the island and sell jewelry to tourist are now getting an education at Holy Cross Anglican School. 

Crossing the "London Bridges".

Lydia  told me the cost of sending just one child to primary school for one year was $360.00.  However, they only charge the parents $50.00 a year and everything else is covered through donations to the school.  Only about 1 in 4 children will continue their education and go to high school.  Most cannot afford to go to high school unless they receive a scholarship.

About half of the children from the school live in the San Mateo Subdivision and is located next to the school.  According to the last census there are approximately 569 people living in this area.  They live in conditions most of us cannot imagine.  Some have no running water or indoor plumbing.  Many do not have electricity and it is not uncommon for 6 to 10 people to be living under one household.  Trash is used as land fill in hopes of one day covering it with sand.  They have no garbage pick up and it looks like a hurricane had hit this area, but instead this is just everyday life to the people living San Mateo.

Because the homes here were built over the swamps, they travel on what they call the London bridges.  They stretch from many of the homes to the residential areas.  Lydia told me they were called "London Bridges", because they are always falling down. 

There are many volunteer opportunities at the Holy Cross Anglican School which include dentistry, remedial reading and math.  I plan on volunteering in any way that I can. 

For more information on volunteering or to make a donation you can go to their website at:  http://www.holycrossbelize.org/.


  1. Well written and illustrated article.

  2. This is such a nice story Debra. I'm sure the many people visiting Paradise do not know of this area. I'm happy that you are planning on volunteering. All the best in Belize and be safe.

  3. Thanks AJ. It was unreal how these people have to live. But yet, the children all seemed happy and glad to be in school and have a place to learn.

  4. Thanks Linda, I know they really don't.

  5. Debra, my daughter will be coming there in January for a study abroad program as a teacher helper. She will be by herself and living alone. Would you feel safe there as a single female.

    1. Hey if you will drop me an email I will be glad to talk to you about it...debra



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