Christ Church Cathedral has a special relationship with the staff and students of St. Hilda’s Anglican School, an elementary school in the rural village of Georgeville. Two hundred children attend the school, ranging between kindergarten and grade 8. Cathedral teams have travelled to Belize five times: in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2018. Over 60 Cathedral members ranging in age from 15 to 79 have gone on a mission trip to Belize, and hundreds of people in Fredericton have supported the work through organizational support, donations and prayers.
As part of the Cathedral's ongoing financial commitment to St. Hilda's, in 2020 we sent the school $1000 in August and $1000 in December to contribute to ongoing needs for the students and teachers. Although we were unable to do any fundraising in 2020 due to COVID-19, enough funds were available from efforts in 2019 to continue our support for the school.
The money sent to St. Hilda's was helpful in preparing for opening of the school with the restrictions and regulations of COVID-19. They used the funds to purchase cleaning and sanitation supplies, as well as garbage bins, masks, and gloves for teachers. Teachers were also given a stipend to assist with classroom preparation and arrangements for physical distancing.
According to Ms. Jane, principal of St. Hilda’s, the school typically holds fundraising events throughout the year to help with supplies, but has been unable to do so since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We communicate with Ms. Jane on a regular basis, who recently shared, "I continue to express sincere gratitude to our Friends of St. Hilda’s family. You all have truly blessed us. I keep seeing God working through your sponsorship. When we were at our lowest, that’s when the funds came through. We are truly thankful. Prayers for you all during this time. God’s continued blessing on your ministry."
In addition to support of the elementary school, the Cathedral supports scholarships for selected St. Hilda's graduates. In Belize, the average age at which a child leaves school is 13 years old, because of the prohibitive costs of high school. Unemployment in the country is high, there are many large single-parent families, and almost half of Belizeans live below the poverty line. In 2010, Cathedral mission team members established a high school scholarship program which has allowed St. Hilda’s students to apply for a scholarship to continue their education past grade 8. Some of the graduates supported by the Cathedral have gone on to post-secondary education.
Currently, four students attending high school benefit from Cathedral scholarships. $4000 was sent in August 2020 -- $1000 each to four students, which helps to cover the cost of tuition, books and other required materials. The 2020-2021 scholarship students are Edvin Perez Grade 9, Gian Myvette Grade 10, Jenniah Tillett Grade 11, and Joselyn Herrera Grade 12.
Our congregation continues to support and pray for the students and teachers at St. Hilda’s school, past and present.