international service, volunteer stories, community

Chirping Birds, Mango Trees and People Who are Like Home

On the south-side of Belize City, the Cayetano House, resides next to a convenience store, about a block away from St. Martin’s de Porres Catholic Church. Most people in the neighborhood know it as the big, white house with the mango tree in the front yard. This is my new house.

Most mornings, the rising sun, along with the chirping birds who live in the coconut tree outside my window, wakes me. If that doesn’t do it, my beeping alarm clock tells me to get out of bed. I go into the kitchen in my PJs, put the dishes up from the previous evening’s community meal, and am met by my housemate, Susie. She begins her morning ritual: takes out the coffee grinder to make Guatemalan pour-over coffee, and listens to soft, alternative Spanish music to refresh her language school lessons. I pull out the blender and whip up some kind of tangy, green concoction to jump-start the day. Although there are various mixing noises coming from the kitchen appliances and sporadic sounds of the neighborhood awakening outside, there is still a sacredness in the air of the kitchen.

There is a stillness amidst the movement. There is no pressure for words but they are always welcome. As we begin the day, we gradually acknowledge all the chaos that the day could bring, but in our own way, this is our benediction. A daily commitment that we will begin the journey of the day together. An act of praise to be alive and healthy. A request to the divine that we will have the strength to make it through all the challenges we might face and a prayer that we will all be back for dinner.

By the time the smoothies are made, the rest of our housemates are in the kitchen preparing breakfast, chatting about the day ahead and, shorty, we are all off getting ready to go to work. It is in tiny moments, like these ones with Susie, that make my daily journey sacred. It is in this big, white house with the mango tree in the front yard I am learning to listen.

Kathleen Tate Mulligan (Belize City 2019-2021)
Tate Mulligan

Tate Mulligan, a small-town girl at heart, grew up in McKinney, Texas. After graduating high school, she lived in Córdoba, Argentina for a year as a Rotary Exchange Student. She then attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee as a Bonner Community Service Scholar and received her Bachelor degree in International Relations and History. Tate Mulligan is excited to serve in Belize City, Belize at The Welcome Resource Centre!