Feb 9, 2016

2015 Challenges, Opportunities, and Successes!

Community Mural Project in San Ignacio
Community Mural Project in San Ignacio

Reflecting on 2015 brings about vivid recollection of the challenges, opportunities, and successes for Mary Open Doors! Challenges are inevitable when delivering care to mothers and their families with battered bodies and broken spirits. Successful intervention is never an easy or straightforward process but one that requires patients, compassion, and understanding that each woman’s need is unique and her path to healing may be strikingly different from the previous survivor.

There were many opportunities to evaluate, collaborate, and build capacity through a regional project to address domestic violence known as the B.A.1 project. Members of our staff and board participated in a variety of training that will improve breadth and depth of our understanding of the physiological and psychological effects of violence on mothers and their children.

January saw our team participating in the Care Model Protocol training for domestic violence shelters and other agencies who provide varied level of care. This intense two days training further strengthens our ability to provide a level of care that empowers women and their families to move from victims’ status to strong survivors.

Furthermore, 2015 brought us success with our families, volunteers, and with our fundraising objectives. Mary Open Doors measures its success by each tiny step we take to help families. Many of our success stories in 2015 were directly linked to compassionate donors like you who supported our organization in myriads of ways. We are truly grateful for your support!

Both local and international donors made a significant difference in our ability to provide services, which included feeding, clothing, and sheltering women and children. Mary Open Doors and a visiting group of volunteers teamed up to distribute food a week before Christmas. We immediately accepted the opportunity to partner with the visitors to provide 15 families with rice, beans, chicken, and other groceries to help make their holiday season a little brighter. Every bit of assistance goes a long way to make a difference in the lives of our families.

Our end-of-year fundraising campaign was another success not because we met our fundraising goal but because we were able to strengthen our relationship with existing donors while attracting new donors to our cause. Our team endeavor to work even more feverishly to grow our network of supporters as we continue our commitment to secure our shelter.

Other News at Mary Open Doors!

Two mothers and their children recently moved from the shelter after receiving services to rebuild their lives. Our new website is up but is still a work in progress. Work will continue to make the website more dynamic as 2016 continues to unfold. We were assessed by the B.A.1 Project Infrastructure consultant in December. We await their recommendations for funding that would address urgent repairs and refurbishing work at the resource center and shelter.

With the help of our long-term Belizean volunteer Mr. Kenny Chan, we’ve designed a membership program, which we aim to launch in the upcoming months.

Mary Open Doors now eagerly awaits the outcome of the research conducted in January by the Ph.D. candidate from Adler University in the United States. Approximately 13 survivors participated in the research project that investigated the Male Police Officers' Response to Female Victims of Domestic Violence in Belize. Every single achievement in 2015 was only made possible because of donors like you.

Our project still needs help…

The incredible goal to purchase the house with land that houses our shelter is still paramount to the orgaization. We’ve seen tremendous support for this project but still need more supporters like you to get involved to help us reach out goal! With your continued support, we know our project will be successful. Huge thanks to you for making 2015 an incredible year for our communities!

Inspirational Quote

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become”. C.G. Jung

Survivors promote Shelter project
Survivors promote Shelter project
Nov 10, 2015

Mary Open Doors Effecting Positive Change One Family at a Time

Being grateful for our generous donors
Being grateful for our generous donors

We are so grateful to every one of our donors who made the September matching day fundraiser a success! We are a lot closer to our goal because you made the sacrifice to support us! Here at Mary Open Doors, we are awestricken by your tremendous support. We are pleased to share that we’ve raised over $7,500US, which will be applied to our goal to raise $30,000US to purchase our shelter. Thank you for joining our cause to eliminate domestic violence from Belize.

A Mary Open Doors Success Story!

The number of women and children fleeing domestic violence continues to grow. Since our last report of sheltering 112 women and 163 children, we’ve assisted several additional women and their children. Over the last two months, Mary Open Doors sheltered a mother with five children. We've worked diligently to establish the family in the community and get the children enrolled in school. Two of the four children are high school students while the other two children are elementary school age. With the generous support from our donors in Belize, the children are now enrolled and attending schools. We are working with mom to find long-term employment.

So, what keeps us going? The experience of changing lives and seeing hope on the faces of mothers and children is one that immediately comes to mind. We are humbled to see the transformation from battered bodies, minds, and spirit to smiling faces and healed wounds. We are blessed to have played a small role in these families regaining their human dignity. Success stories such as this family’s recovery and survival is such an incredible gift. We are privilege to have the opportunity to lift women and their children up on a daily basis.

What’s New at Mary Open Doors!

A new logo was recently unveiled as efforts are made to rebrand the organization. Work is currently being done to redesign our website, which we aim to launch in December, 2015. Additional news include upcoming board and staff training, along with strategic planning sessions in the upcoming months. The Mary Open Doors team is excited about these upcoming activities that will further enhance our services.

Furthermore, the organization looks forward to supporting a Ph.D. candidate research project from Adler University in the United States. The research project will investigate the Male Police Officers' Response to Female Victims of Domestic Violence in Belize. The organization recognize the importance of research and its contribution to identifying gaps in services, sensitization needs, and so much more. Mary Open Doors anticipate the results of this particular research.

Mary Open Doors Poem

As I enter the parking lot there she stood

Dressed in fluorescent yellow…

Though sobbing and mopping the constant flow of tears from her eyes, her darkness is illuminated.

The light that she was not wrong, but wronged

Wronged by the man she trust or should I say…trusted

Today she walks out of the darkness of being kicked, slapped, punched, insulted, deprived, depreciated and defined as hopeless, helpless…worthless

Today she stands at the entrance of Mary Open Doors

Though she sobs, it’s clear that these are the final tears

Her eyes speak volumes, they are confident and hopeful

Beyond the tears their glow outshines the color of fluorescent yellow

Today she enters the doors of embrace and of hope

After all the doors have always been open, but today-yes today…she drops all fears to seek the hope of Mary Open Doors. Written By F. Mena 

Why we still need your help…

The work to break the chains of domestic violence is ongoing and goes  beyond providing safe shelter. Women seeking shelter will often turn to Mary Open Doors before accessing Government Agencies and services in Belize. We are their first choice because the organization quickly responds to needs of clients’. No bureaucracy or red-tape, we simply respond to solve the problem immediately and efficiently. Majority of our clients come from difficult financial situations, which requires longer term assistance with food and clothes supplies after they leave the shelter. Families are never forced out of the shelter but rather supported through counseling services, court advocacy, employment training, and networking to ensure success. It is imperative to Mary Open Doors longevity that we succeed at purchasing the property used to shelter women and children.

Our Holiday Season goal is achievable!

This year, our goal is to double the amount of money raised last December! Mary Open Doors aim to raise $12,000US for women and children seeking safe shelter by the end of 2015. In September we were able to raise $1,173.00US of the $12,000US. We must fundraise $10,827.00US between now and December 31 to reach our $12,000US end of year goal. Although this is sizeable amount of money to raise, we are confident that this goal is achievable with the help of the community in Belize, our partners at Global Giving, and generous donors worldwide.

Resorce Center offering hope to all who walks in.
Resorce Center offering hope to all who walks in.
Aug 28, 2015

Mary Open Doors: The Tree of Hope

"Tree of Hope" from the B.A. 1 Project Training
"Tree of Hope" from the B.A. 1 Project Training

Thank you (again, again, and again)!

Last year, Mary Open Doors was thrilled to have raised over $6,000US to be put towards purchasing our shelter! We know this is just the first of many more steps we will take towards raising the necessary $30,000US goal. We are so grateful to have such generous donors to help us in our pursuit to eliminate domestic violence from Belize.

What’s new at Mary Open Doors?

We are committed to empowering and improving the well-being of women and children affected by violence in the Cayo district of Belize. Since women’s empowerment is such a key goal of Mary Open Doors, this year we have been spending a lot of time working with the country-wide initiative called the B.A. 1 Project. This project is the result of consorted efforts between the Heads of State and Government of the Central American Integration System (SICA). Locally, this summer we had the privilege to participate in a three-week B.A. 1 Women’s Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Workshop. Twenty-seven female survivors of domestic abuse completed this intensive training and were able to apply to receive one of 250 small business grants of $1,500 USD. It was an enriching experience for all women who participated. This training is a fantastic opportunity for our women to be able to create a sustainable income and provide for their children as they move on from the trauma of the past.

Why we still need your help…

In the Cayo district of Belize where we are located, over 70% of women report that they have experienced some form of domestic violence within their past or current relationship. This startling reality combined with the poverty many of our residents live with makes a safe shelter extremely valuable and necessary for the women and children of Cayo. Since the shelter’s inception in 2008, over 112 women along with 163 children accessed this home.

Given the absence of any government funding, Mary Open Doors is still the only safe house in the district. We rely on private donations to continue to facilitate our day to day functions as a shelter which include providing clothing and food for our residents, assisting our clients to find an independent livelihood, as well as offering counseling services and court advocacy. In order to support the women and children who rely on our services, we hope to purchase the shelter we currently rent. This is an essential step towards much-needed stability for the Belizean families who need it most.

We’re not giving up hope!

We know that our shelter gives strength and hope to those struggling at the most difficult of times. We continue to push through the adversity for women like Lisa*, whose story goes like this…

“I am a victim of domestic violence. When I need help, and after everyone else had turned me away, Mary Open Doors provided shelter for myself and my four children. We stayed in the shelter for eight months and were provided everything needed to sustain ourselves: counseling, clothing, food, everything. They even helped me to finally secure birth certificates and the necessary papers for all four of my kids. Even when my family would not help me, I was grateful Mary Open Doors could. I was motivated to have better and to be better. Mary Open Doors truly opened doors for me and my family.”

This year, our goal is to double the amount of money we raised last December! By the end of 2015, we want to raise $12,000US for women and children fleeing domestic violence. We know this is a lot of money to fundraise but we feel that with the help of the community, local businesses, Global Giving, and kind donors all over the world, we can achieve our mission!

* Names changed for the safety of our clients


BA1 Project Training Participants
BA1 Project Training Participants
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