The girl releases a wide smile as she lets loose. Swaying, dancing, moving to the sound of the beat. In Belize, the national dance is the Punta dance. It’s loud, joyful and catchy.
Many in Belize don’t get to dance though. Living in squalor and having virtually nothing, children are too busy trying to find the money to pay for uniforms and books to go to high school. Most can’t. However, Drake Professor of Law James Albert and hundreds of Drake students are determined to change that.
The Belize Dance Marathon will be a 12-hour non-stop party of Drake students celebrating, jumping and moving to the beat. It’s dancing to make a difference. The money Drake students earn in pledges for dancing will change thousands of lives.
The April 16 dance party will feature a variety of bands, DJs, games and tons of food to keep the energy up. However, that is months away.
This week, look for a week full of activities to kick off the marathon. Student organizers have coined it “Belize Week.” See the schedule (left) for details.
“This week should be great and has taken a whole crew of passionate students to get it off the ground,” Belize Week organizer, junior Eric Sloss said.
Belize is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, with thousands living in small Mayan villages. According to the James Arthur Albert Foundation website (http://www.helpingbelizekids.org/), the average Mayan family has six to eight children on a yearly income equivalent to $375. Children are forced to sleep on dirt floors and the cost of schooling prevents children from obtaining any education. Anyone that signs up will know that they are making a difference in the lives of many children.
According to Albert, high school costs $200 per year for each child in Belize. Sixty percent of high school age children in that country do not attend high school because they do not have $200. Drake’s Belize Dance Marathon will raise money to send hundreds of children in Belize to high school, build grade schools in villages where none exist and keep the doors open of the Night High School for Girls in the town of Punta Gorda.
Albert and Delta Theta Phi alumni traveled to Belize three weeks ago to meet with the 30 Belizean high school students who Drakes students put in school this year, to deliver $8,000 in science and biology equipment to the Night High School for Girls and to conduct soccer camps in nine Mayan villages.
“Meeting all of the 30 students who we put in high school and being able to provide them with tuition books and uniforms was incredibly powerful,” Albert said. Video of the ceremony and the students will be available for viewing at the April 16 event.
One student in particular is a standout athlete as the captain of the boys’ volleyball team, at the poorest school in the nation. Four months ago, he could have only dreamt of going to high school. Drake students changed that.
“It was wonderful to personally meet the children who had written to us, dreaming for an education,” Albert said. “They were all so thankful and grateful to the Drake students for making their dreams come true.”
Alpha Phi, FIJI and Sigma Chi have started the charge with over 200 dancers!
“This is not only a great cause, it’s a women’s cause,” Molly Bassford, president of Alpha Phi said. “I believe that the women of Drake University should unite and demonstrate the bonds of global sisterhood. I cannot wait to shake my booty for all of those children in Belize!”
Learn more about the often forgotten nation of Belize and click to http://helpingbelizekids.com. Register, donate and do a little dance today!
Belize Week Schedule
Tuesday: Watch for walking, dancing, singing, mobbing….
Wednesday: Live music and mocktails on Pomerantz Stage
Thursday: Peggy’s Tavern specials
Friday: Specialty school sign-ups
Saturday: Sponsored Drake Basketball game. Maybe a surprise will happen…