Monkey on the ruins at Xunantunich, Belize

Horses in Red Bank, Belize.

This is Lyanee, eating a mango that she found on the ground.

She’s 2 years old. Yet she leaves the house and walks all by herself to church. Little sweetheart.

A little story about the boy on the far left:

His name is Lorenzio. He’s 8 years old but his maturity is far beyond that.

Everyday during Vacation Bible School, while the rest of the children were climbing my arms screaming “Miss! He has more candy than me!” “Miss! Give me crayons!” “Miss! Miss! Miss!”, Lorenzio was behind them picking up the candy wrappers and broken crayons off the grass to throw in the trash.

One day, he saw me struggling to hand out craft supplies to all the kids that were pushing, shoving, stealing, crying, cutting in line, and throwing fits. He pushed past them, and he took half of the supplies out of my hand. I said “No, Lorenzio! You have to wait in line like everybody else!” He replied “No Kristina! I help you!” And he did.

He stood on his toes, threw his hands up and ordered everyone to shut up and form a line (in Mayan). Immediately, they did as he said. Whenever they started to meander or complain, he would again take control of the situation. And everyone would obey.

I was so shocked and amazed that such a little guy could wield so much power over kids twice his age and height. He never asked for any candy at the end, and he never even had time to make his own craft. He just offered to pick up the trash with me.

On the last day of Vacation Bible School, I called Lorenzio to the front of the church and presented him with a soccer ball in front of all the kids. I told him it was for his hard work and his selflessness. He received it graciously and cheesed at all the “oohing” and “aahing” kids in the audience. Sweet little Lorenzio, however, almost missed that ceremony because he had wanted to stay outside and pick up the trash for me. And afterwards, he gave the ball to his baby brother. 

I miss that boy so much. Never in America have I seen a child give everything he had, even if he had nothing to give. The night before we left (a very emotional night), Lorenzio gave me a bracelet. And I haven’t taken it off since.

The other boy in this picture is Leonard- 11 years old. And his sister Karen- 9 years old. They’re my other two favorites, but they’re another story.

Going for a walk with some of the wonderful children in Belize. My sister is in the purple dress, my brother is in the orange/white polo and I’m the shortie in the middle.

Apparently, it’s Animal Rights Awareness Week.

(Quickly, let’s get over my nasty hair and lack of makeup and decent clothes…I had been pissing outside for a week by the time this was taken)

So I’d like to introduce GT. Doesn’t he have a sweet face? Does it pain you to know that GT is a victim of starvation, neglect, mockery, and physical abuse with wooden planks and whips?

GT lives in a small Mayan village in Belize, and it is common in their culture to keep dogs, but not to love them. I’ve witnessed numerous accounts of abuse, but the first time that I spoke out against it, many of my team members scolded me to shut up.

I visited GT’s village for a week recently, and each day I saw the poor sweetheart tied to a bus under the blistering sun with no access to food or water. His ribs were blatantly visible. His hair was thin. His skin was full of ticks and open sores. His butt was covered in welts from beatings. He was skittish around every person.

Each mealtime, my team and I would eat on a picnic table near the bus, a plate of rice, beans, chicken, and cheese. Being a vegan, I wouldn’t eat the chicken or the cheese. But seeing that sad lonely face under the bus, I would sneak the chicken and cheese to him after the meal was over. 

Over the weekspan, GT and I became great buds. When off the rope, he’d follow me around, I’d scratch him and talk to him and give him some love. His ribs filled in and his sad face seemed to lighten up. He was a happy boy under all that sadness.

On the last day, I was walking down the road, about 100 yards from GT’s bus. And his owner came out with a whip and just started whipping him. I had no idea why, he was just laying there. GT sprang to his feet and began crying out in pain. He ran away, but his owner followed with the whip. He ran under a table to hide, and the owner reached below to chase him out. It ended when GT finally burst out in full sprint and ran away, yelping with pain. GT’s screams just made me cry. I could’ve done something, but my team told me that I would’ve disgraced the word of God if I tried to speak out against their “culture.” That we’re not in Belize to criticize their way of life, but to build a church.

I now realize that God sent me there to love GT. Not to paint a wall, or to mix mortar, or to lay bricks. How does that show the love of God? I’m constantly kicking myself for leaving him there because his cries still resonate in my head. Hearing the other dogs getting beaten angered me, but hearing my special friend getting whipped enraged me. I just want people to be aware of the abuse that goes on in other countries. It’s very present, more than I’ve ever seen in the states. I’ll die inside every night when I know that GT isn’t being loved.