I’ll weigh in on this one at the risk of seeming insensitive. I will have to admit that I come down on this issue close to Reef Ransom’s views. When I first started coming to Belize I did the gift thing and brought down many items. I am not so sure it did not do more for my feelings about myself than it did for the recipients. But then again, there is that saying “it is better to give than receive.” Having said that, my belief now is that coming to AC and supporting the people there by being a tourist, after all that is what they have invested so much into attracting, and spending money in the local economy is the best way to “give”. Now I will waffle some here and also say that there are many good causes that need funding. Donating to those is different to me than giving a direct gift to someone who has really done nothing to deserve that gift other than possibly being what we consider in need of that gift. I would venture to say that a large percentage of those receiving those gifts, if asked, would privately not want to admit to “needing” those gifts. When I see someone on the street corner with a sign that says “will work for food” I tend to be more willing to help than to the beggar that asks for a hand out.
I also know that there are many other places in Belize where gifts and donations are much more needed than on AC, and I do not hold these beliefs to be applicable to those places and people. There is also a resentment towards the people living on AC from others in Belize because they feel there is so much money coming to AC from tourism that the people of AC are much better off than others in the country. I am sure this is valid if for no other reason than looking at all the undesirerables coming to AC to rob and steal, it is where the money is.
I will finish my thoughts by telling of some dentists friends of mine who first came to Belize and to AC. They went through the process of deciding they could be wonderful Americans and give some free dental services to the people of AC. OK, here is my skeptical me. I think the taking a vacation and getting the IRS to pay for part of it might have entered into the equation and I wonder what the Belizean dentists thought of these wonderful Americans giving away all of this free service to their paying customers. Anyway, these dentists are still coming to Belize, but they are going into the mainland around Punta Gorda and providing their services to areas that have no Belizean dentists and the people have no access to dental care and could not afford it if it was available. They then come to AC and finish there vacation leaving behind some of theirs (and the IRS’s) money. Seems to me like a win win situation.