Screen_shot_2011-07-13_at_8.32.54_PMSarteneja is a remote village in the Corozal District located approximately 40 miles from Orange Walk Town. Because of its pristine scenery and proximity to the Caribbean Sea the village is considered one of Belize’s best kept secrets. In order to promote Sarteneja as a tourist attraction 13 women from the village came together and formed the Sarteneja Home Stay Group. Since the formation of the group in 2009 the women have welcomed many visitors, tourists and locals, to their homes offering them lodging and meals at very reasonable prices.

But the women want more progress for the village and since Monday they have been participating in a one week training workshop conducted by the Social Investment Fund. The workshop is based on how to conduct needs assessment.

Elena Gutierrez- Consultant Social Investment Fund

“After learning on how to do this they will be able to write project proposals on their own so as to access funding to alleviate poverty, some poverty in Belize because that is what Social Investment Fund is doing right now they have their funding projects that are going to help especially women and children what they can do to alleviate poverty in the village. At the end of the week they will be able to conduct a needs assessment in their village. They will be able to identify what the village needs and also write proposals for the projects that they want. We are also giving them a list of funding agencies locally and internationally where they can direct their proposals.”

As mentioned, after completing the training the group will be able to properly send out proposals for a number of projects that will be beneficial to the community. And the ladies are wasting no time because they already have two projects in mind for which they will request funding from the Social Investment Fund.

Ivette Cob- President Sarteneja Home Stay Group

“The Project that we will be working on is for private bathrooms for the home stays and cultural centre for the community.”

Peace Crop Volunteer

“The women have shown the outmost dedication and interest in being able to prepare themselves and prepare their homes to have all guest. They have been practicing their English and doing everything they can to have a hospitable welcoming home. It’s a very safe community lots of activities, very friendly for families and children and the women are constantly working on how else they can improve. The idea about the bathrooms came up because many people do ask for their private bathrooms with their room eventhough the accommodations are for the family it is still nice to have your own facility.”

Jennifer Schrodinger- Peace Corp Volunteer

“They are also proposing a Multi Purpose Cultural Centre for the women for not to only house as office for the group but also house a cultural centre for cultural dances, for cooking exhibitions and also to provide space for arts and craft and perhaps in the future for pastry and cake decorating so, really a multi fascinating approach to incorporating that into the community.”

The women have also received training in other areas which have assisted them tremendously in their business.

Zonia Rodriguez - Member Sarteneja Home Stay Group

“It help us in a lot of ways to get our own money because here in our village our husbands we only depend on them because they are fishermen and having this group it help us to get a little bit of money so that we can help also with our expenses and with our kids going to high school and that’s the only way we can help them.”

Screen_shot_2011-07-13_at_8.33.05_PMCarmelita Perez-Reporter

“What are some of the things you have learnt and being in that group?”

Zonia Rodriguez - Member Sarteneja Home Stay Group

“Well being in this group we have learn a lot because for example here in the village we women were left behind but now we can show it that we as women we can lift up our heads and defend our fights also.”

Ivette Cob- President Sarteneja Home Stay Group

“We have accomplished trainings the group has prepared in hospitality trainings, food handling, we have obtained grants to improve accommodations in our homes for visitors and also we have obtained our license under the Hotel and Accommodations Act from BTB.”

Any group wishing to receive training in how to write successful proposals and needs assessments are asked to contact the Social Investment Fund at 822-0239.

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