Wow, when I mentioned my frustration with the customs practices during a recent get-together I found out so much more. Belize is struggling with poverty vs graft vs foolishly devised laws. More friends had distressing tales of people in the US trying to help, but being stymied by customs. I was told about a lady who collected a huge supply of books to bring down for the kids. She found she would have to pay a substantial duty besides her shipping, so wasn't able to follow through.
A Belizian friend has worked closely with a group from Pittsburgh through his church. In past years they've come down to bring things to the villages and have been accompanied by Drs. who volunteer their services and bring medicines. They can no longer afford to take their time, pay for their tickets to come and then be charged duty on all the supplies that they bring in. This conversation included a concurrence from a member of Rotary who said that they've encountered the same situation. They've been encouraging doctors and dentists to volunteer their time and services here in Belize, but find that they are discouraged and charged duty on anything they bring in. They even had to pay duty on a container of wheelchairs that were donated.
It makes me proud that Americans are opening their hearts to help this little country, but the message seems to be to just SEND MONEY. Phooey on that. It will just find it's way into someone's pocket rather than help the villagers who could so use the services and supplies.