volunteer stories, international service, housing development

Jesuit Volunteer Securing Housing for Belizean Clients

Cleaning up after Ms. Irma’s house blessing with my coworker, Rashida. (Belize 2018)

I’ve always been a questions person. When I learned I was placed in Belize with JVC, I naturally had a LOT of questions: who will I be living with; where will I work; what will my job be like day-to-day?

Upon arriving to Belize City in August, I had a completely new list of questions to answer: who will I be interacting with on a daily basis; how will I ever learn to talk Kriol; what does engaging in social justice in a Belizean setting look like?

Questions come and questions go, just like the tide of the sea upon which I now live. Most questions, with time, find their answers – at Hand in Hand’s Building for Change program, I accompany Belizeans who for various reasons cannot afford a safe and comfortable home through our housing application process. I am learning to speak in Kriol a little bit by listening to and talking with friends and coworkers.

Some answers are harder to grasp – what does social justice in Belize look like? I’m still figuring that out. Some days it looks like engaging in conversation about Belizean’s ideas of gender roles or racism. Or working with boys at-risk for becoming involved in gang life. And sometimes it’s simply supporting my community-mates as they work within Belize’s criminal justice and education systems. Whatever my part in it all ends up being, I can say without a doubt there’s plenty to be done.
 

Leading group prayer at the beginning of building day for Ms. Genevieve and her sisters. (Belize 2018)
Leading group prayer at the beginning of building day for Ms. Genevieve and her sisters. (Belize 2018)
Ginny with Ms. Dedra in front of her new home! (Belize 2018)
Ginny with Ms. Dedra in front of her new home! (Belize 2018)
Ginny working with Regis High School boys to lift the walls for Ms. Dedra’s new house. (Belize 2018)
Ginny working with Regis High School boys to lift the walls for Ms. Dedra’s new house. (Belize 2018)

What am I doing? I’m working in a job that welcomes my questions that come from my headspace, but also challenges me to tap into my “heart space,” as I walk with our partners on a journey to self-empowerment and a house they can call their own. Along the way I use my discretion to problem solve and address situations that arise with each individual case. At the same time, I am learning how non-profits operate in an international setting and how to correctly swing a hammer, lift walls and nail roofing.

Why am I here? To learn the realities of the people I work with every day. Sharing in and cherishing all the ups and all the downs of the lives of those I am serving, as I accompany them to the best of my ability. I’m here to explore humanity’s capacity for generosity, love and hope.

After six full months of living here, I still have yet more questions. Every day I struggle to ask the question and then just…be with the question, answer or not. Thanks in part to Richard Rohr and another to my spiritual director, Pat, I came across this quote from Rainer Mara Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”:

I beg you, have patience with everything unresolved in your heart…live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Live the questions. Perhaps then you will gradually live your way into the answer.

Questions are important, and answers can be too. But it’s not allowing the questions to overwhelm the experience – the living – that is truly something to practice.

Virginia Scherer (Belize 2018-20) Headshot
Ginny Scherer

Virginia (Ginny) Scherer was born in New Orleans, Louisiana but calls San Antonio, Texas home. She graduated a year ago from the University of Texas at Austin with dual degrees in Journalism & Plan II Honors. For the past year she has been living with her best friend Kate - who is in a wheelchair - as a caretaker. She loves to travel, to hike and swim, to practice yoga, read and write, meet new people, learn new languages and experience new foods and cultures. While living in Barcelona her junior year, Ginny joined a casteller group where she learned how to build and climb human towers (Google a picture or video, it's amazing!) For the next two years, she will be serving as a Case Manager at Hand in Hand Ministries in Belize City, Belize.