Director's Welcome

Melanie Emerson, Country Director for Peace Corps Belize
Melanie Emerson, Country Director for Peace Corps Belize

Welcome! Welkom! K'ulubanbilex ¡Bienvenidos! Ki Kuma'anex! 

Have you been moved by President Kennedy’s distant call to service? Are you looking for a meaningful way to make a powerful and lasting impact in the world? Does broadening your horizons and sharing another culture resonate with you? Are you ready for the toughest job you’ll ever love? 

Yes, you say? Then Peace Corps Belize is the post for you! Our Peace Corps Volunteers are some of the happiest in the world, and that is because the work here is so good; the challenge, so intense.

Peace Corps Belize is one of the longest continuous programs in the world, having served the people of Belize (then, British Honduras) since 1962. Belize is rich with cultural diversity, and while formally an English-speaking nation, all Volunteers learn one of five predominate languages during training (this varies by training group): Garifuna, Kriol, Maya Mopan, Q’eqchi (Maya), or Spanish. PC/B Volunteers’ ability to communicate with host families, community members and counterparts in a local language is a hallmark of service and not only offers Volunteers an opportunity for greater work efficacy and cultural integration, but also distinguishes Peace Corps Volunteers apart from the many international visitors that frequent Belize’s shores.

Volunteers in Belize live with host families for the full twenty-seven month duration of training and service, enjoying an exceptional opportunity for cultural exchange. Through it all, Volunteers exemplify resilience, flexibility, perseverance, professionalism, and respect as they successfully integrate, build trust, transfer skills, and learn. To date, 1,974 Volunteers have served the people of Belize. Won’t you join us as we surpass the 2,000 mark?

The Challenge 

Yes, Belize boasts luxury resorts, rainforest zip lines, pristine diving and an active expat community. But unknown to most Americans and most of the world, the vast majority of Belizeans live in moderate to extreme poverty. Although Belize is classified as an upper middle-income country with an overall Human Development Index of 0.732, prosperity is mal-distributed. Wealth is concentrated in specific social sectors, leaving a large proportion of Belizeans living in moderate or extreme poverty. If you serve in Belize, you will most likely be living in impoverished conditions. However, if you have the drive and dedication to serve the people of Belize, you will flourish.

The Assignment

All PC/B Volunteers’ service falls within the Rural Family Health Project (RFHP), a close collaboration with the Ministry of Health focusing on maternal/child health and chronic non-communicable diseases including hypertension and diabetes. The purpose of the RFHP is to support Belizean rural families in adopting positive behaviors to improve and maintain their health. Volunteers work in close partnership with Community Health Workers, District Health Educators, local school teachers, principals and community members. PC/B Volunteers are very thoughtful in understanding and being creative in responding to the needs and interests of their communities. In addition to the primary RFHP work, Volunteers also engage in complementary secondary community projects. Some begin from fitness or sports clubs, deliver cooking classes, or grow gardens. Some build latrines, hold health fairs, or support garbage collection efforts.  Some form girls and boys empowerment groups: GLOW or Girls Leading our World, and BRO, Boys Respecting Others.

The RFHP has resources that support its primary development goals, yet our model offers Volunteers ample opportunity to respond to specific needs in their community. Our model is successful because it offers structure, yet flexibility and… it’s rewarding!

The Possibilities 

Extreme challenge begets immense reward. If you are a person of flexibility and fortitude and are ready for what will likely be the hardest, but most rewarding, endeavor of your life – then we invite you to apply to Peace Corps Belize. In the words of a recent RPCV: “It was so good, because it was so hard”.  Your expectations, hopes and patience will be tested here in ways that you cannot now imagine, and often in ways you do not want. But, if you persevere and commit yourself to service, you will be richly rewarded with the achievement of contributing to sustainable development, tremendous self-learning, and the embrace of the welcoming Belizean people. You will achieve this amidst multiple tropical treasures – from fresh fruits and spectacular landscapes to lively music and an inviting culture. And on top of it all, an experienced and tremendously caring Peace Corps Belize staff – many of them with over 15 years of service themselves—is poised to support you in your service.

If you are up for this challenge, Peace Corps Belize is waiting for you!

Melanie Emerson
Country Director, Peace Corps Belize
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Panamá