Eco Health with the Mayans!

2020 Open Enrollment Program Details
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About This Program 

Country: Belize  Duration: 7- 8 days, depending on program dates 

Available Dates: March 29-April 5, 2020 OR June 27-July 5, 2020

Arrival City: Belize City  Departure City: Belize City  Cost: $1065.00

Project Focus: March Program: Community Bathrooms | June Program: Community Center


Work with the Mayans and explore customs related to Eco-Health and traditional approaches to health and medicine. Meet the diverse cultures of Belize while exploring the beautifully bio diverse country. Snorkel in the world’s largest living reef and tube down the Lazy River the world’s largest jaguar reserve. Did you know that human interaction with the environment affects human health? Students will learn about how changes in the ecosystem impact the health of Belizeans, as well as humans world wide. Come dive in the native Mayan culture and learn about the traditional natural medicines.

Students may participate in the  latrine  project for a rural school in Medina Bank, which will help support the ancient culture in it’s ongoing adaptation to global change in an environmentally responsible way. Additionally, projects focusing on health and agricultural diversification ensure that the livelihood and traditional practices of the Indian Creek community are protected through education and access to modern resources. The remainder of the program will be spent in a variety of immersive socio-cultural activities and experiences, ranging from exploring ancient Mayan ruins and visiting traditional communities to snorkeling through the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef and relaxing on the Belizean Cayes.  

2020 Projects in Belize 

Community Center Renovation 

The Community Center in Medina Bank is old and slowly falling apart. Community leaders have proposed taking down the community center and rebuilding it larger as a 7e project in hopes of having a safe and secure, comfortable area for community meetings and reunions, especially as the community continues to grow. We see this is an great opportunity to focus the cultural security of Medina Bank and encourage this small population to have an asset that can be shared for gathering places, educational purposes, and anything that the leaders of Medina Bank find useful. 

Community Bathroom Construction

Through consultation with 7e staff, community leaders agreed that, because of the large size of the project, 7e should begin construction of bathrooms for households in meeting centers and areas in Medina Bank such as the current Community Center, school, etc. Priority will be given first to communal bathrooms first, then households with elderly folks. This will consist of a cement floor, block septic, western toilet and sink.  Student tasks may include: mixing cement, digging septic holes, trenches for piping, painting, basic construction. Our local partner, Cindy Cal, reports that at this time the community needs 65 bathrooms.

Local Team

Cindy Cal – Lodging and Community Relationships Manager
Cindy is the owner and manager of Maya Green Forest Adventure, our accommodation in Belize. As well providing traditional Mayan food and cultural classes for 7elements students in Belize, she also manages our community partnerships. 7elements is proud to support Cindy, the youngest registered female business owner and one of few Mayan business owners in Belize.

The Lodge 

Lodging in Belize is about 2 miles off the hummingbird highway by the Mayan village of Medina Bank. The lodge is constructed of locally sourced materials, with partial solar and generator power with 3 cabins each divided into 2, there is one mens bathroom and shower and one womens each with 4 showers and 4 toilets. There is a calm private river 5 minutes walk from the lodge, great for swimming.

Program Itinerary

Day 1:  Arrive at Belize Airport (BZE) with your group.  A 7 Elements staff will be there to greet you at the airport with a 7e sign. We drive to Medina Bank, our program home base. Program orientation will be held inside the Lodge. We will Walk around Medina Bank  and get familiar with the small community. Return to the Maya Green Forest Adventure Lodge for dinner.
Reflection & Discussion: Early Mayan history, colonization, Spanish/English influence, and agriculture/land appropriation/loss of culture

Day 2: We will tour of Medina Bank and Indian Creek communities to learn about the Menonite culture and historical migration patterns. We will also visit village school, archaeological sites, and agriculture areas. Return to the Maya Green Forest Adventure Lodge for dinner. Tomorrow we will begin our first day of community service/project.
Reflection & Discussion: Community ethics

Day 3:  First Service Day! Today we will begin working on our community project with our local leaders. We will delve into the Human Security Issues related to this project and how we hope to be a part of the process of finding sustainable solutions for our community partners.
Return to the Maya Green Forest Adventure Lodge for dinner and relaxing time.
Reflection & Discussion: Natural vs. Commodity economic systems. Global exploitation of labor and resources International monetary fund/world bank/other development institutions

Day 4: Continue the construction of our building project in Medina bank and continue working alongside the community. We will return to the Maya Green Forest Adventure Lodge later for dinner, reflection and relaxation time. 
Reflection & Discussion: Globalization, international institutions/organization of American states/united nations

Day 5: An unforgettable day in the Mayan ruin Xunantunich. We will visit the Mayan ruin Xuanantunich in San Ignacio and learn about the history of Mayan culture. Return to the Maya Green Forest Adventure Lodge for dinner and relaxation.
Reflection & Discussion: Mayan culture/history & impact of mono crop and tourism

Day 6: Today is our last day of service in Medina Bank. Today we will wrap up and make final progress on the community bathrooms or community center and spend time with the community members we have met over the week. 
Reflection & Discussion: Cultural barriers, cultural values, and cultural preservation

Day 7: Our final day of the program is an adventure day to snorkel on one of the world’s largest living coral reefs. We will see beautiful aquatic eco-systems featuring stunning colorful coral reef. Since it’s our last night in Belize, we will have a farewell party! 

Day 8: Your departure day. Your Program Director will take the group to Belize airport (BZE) and make sure you get on the flight safely. Thank you for all of your hard work. Have a good flight!

* Note: final itinerary subject to adjustment in line with external factors and situational dynamics such as local weather, timing transportation, and ongoing input from community leaders.