Calcutta Village is one of the villages we may one day look back on and see the greatest amount of change. In our March 2009 visit to Belize, we met a 27 year old teacher from a local high school in Corozal Town. Born and raised in Calcutta, he shared the difficult times he experienced growing up in Calcutta. Out of 20 students in his class, he was the only one not to use drugs as a child. The effects have been damaging and hope rests in the hands of those who could enter in and reveal another path for the children of Calcutta to pursue.
With a primarily East-Indian population, Calcutta has a different look and feel to it compared to the more prevalent Mayan and Mestizo communities surrounding it in the North. We have heard of more broken families and more violence than most villages we work in. We have also witnessed this rougher way during our time each summer in Calcutta starting in 2007. Where can hope be found? Like most children in Belize, the Calcutta children burn for football. The teachers of the primary school believe it is the medium that could change their lives. One teacher in their school admitted to us, “we can’t even get them to focus in class because all they think about it is football”. They then proceeded to talk about the change in behavior and the attitudes of some of their toughest children. “Because of your camps,” they said, “we have seen a positive change in them”. And with a school program on the heels of starting within their school, we are hopeful of even more positive change.
In Summer 2009, Matias came on to help us coach in our camps in Calcutta. He now leads the same group of children with his own version of camp on the weekends during the school year. With strong character and charisma, we believe greatly in Matias and his ability to use our program to empower the children in his community. We are hopeful that instead of one man like Matias coming through school, we will see the majority of children seeking a better path away from drugs, alcohol, and violence.