Touching Lives Around the World–Literacy Outreach Belize–A Program by Professional Storyteller, Kristin Pedemonti

Teaching Reading (in Spanish!) at Library San Miguel Duenas Guatemala, 2007

This weekend I had the great blessing of attending Story Fusion, a wonderful storytelling festival in the Lehigh Valley.  It was organized by the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild.  The weekend was truly life changing for me and I will be posting about my experiences, and the fruits of those experiences, over the next couple of weeks.  The best thing about the weekend was meeting and connecting with this whole culture of people–storytellers.  The people I met were generous in spirit, kind, open, wise, playful, and out there trying to make the world a better place.  One such person is Kristin Pedemonti, a professional storyteller who founded an amazing literacy outreach program in Belize.  She is helping teach teachers and students creative wrting, the value of stories and literacy, and so on.  It is a truly beautiful endeavor.  Today I am reprinting, with her permission, an entry from her website that tells about her project.  Included here are three training videos that she made showing some of the work she is doing.  Please watch them now or over the next few days.  She is wise and playful and we can all learn from her generous spirit.  Please visit her website and follow this link to the original article because in it there is a Paypal Donation button to help support her project that I was unable to put in this reprint.  

So here’s the article about her work in Belize.

Kristin sold her home and most of her possessions in 2005 to create Literacy Outreach Belize. She used a substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale to kickstart this volunteer project. Since 2006, Kristin has donated literacy programs for over 33,000 children in Belize and trained over 600 teachers!

Carla, teacher at St. Joseph Primary in Belize City has this to say:

I am a teacher at St. Joseph Primary School in Belize City and I have known Ms. Kristin ever since she came to Belize. She is a storytelling expert and she has really influenced me as a teacher. She is vibrant, motivated and has a very pleasant personality when dealing with children… I was lucky to have been chosen by her to tell stories to my class and the children and I have always enjoyed it. I am a very motivated teacher myself and just listening to her made me even more enthusiastic about teaching especially telling stories to my children. ~Carla Graniel

Great things are happening with Literacy Outreach Belize! Good News, Kristin is the 2011 Recipient of the National Storytelling Network International StoryBridge Oracle Award in part due to her work in Belize!

Every year Kristin returns to Belize for approximately one month to continue the project through teacher training workshops and school visits. Every year since 2007 she depends on her own fundraising and securing sponsorship to sustain the project. Through the years the following groups and individuals have helped sponsor Literacy Outreach Belize: In 2012, the trip was sponsored through a fundraising campaign on 53 people raised $3K+ to sponsor the creation of Teacher Training Videos. In the past, Michael Thomas, Belize City Rotary, Rosendo Urbino, The Kilroy Family, Allison Rotteveel, Marlborough Elementary School, Northern Elementary School and August Brinker. Read on to learn what was accomplished with each sponsor’s donations.

Thanks to all the supporters via Kristin was able to do the following in January 2012:

  • 340 students participated in Preserve Culture Story-writing programs at Bishop Martin and Immaculate Conception Schools.
  • 168 teachers attended Teacher Training Sessions on Creative Writing Using Indigenous Stories and Storytelling in the Classroom.
  • TWO Teacher Training Videos were filmed and edited thanks to the help of Matthiew Klinck, Eva Behrens and Robin Reichert. The videos are already being distributed in Belize through the Literacy Unit, National Library Service, Sacred Heart College and Ecumenical Junior College and are on youtube on my channel: storytellerkp
  • Here’s a preview of the Training Videos:

    August Brinker sponsored the 2011 volunteer trip to Belize. Because of Mr. Brinker’s donation Kristin was able to do the following:

    January 15, 2011 to February 10 2011

    • Preserve Culture Story-writing Programs presented at Bishop Martin RC School for over 500 students
    • Book Drive for Bishop Martin, 100+ books donated
    • Staff Development Teacher Training Workshop at Sacred Heart Junior College, 47 teachers learned how to preserve Belizean cultural stories and use storytelling and story-writing to enrich their classrooms
    • School visit to Immaculate Conception School in Bullet Tree Falls, story-writing workshops with STD 5 and 6 students
    • Nearly 200 Sacred Heart High School students participated in Story-writing workshops
    • Story-writing workshop and storytelling presentations at St. Joseph School Belize City, over 300 students participated
    • Staff Development Workshop at St. Joseph’s School
    • Teacher Training in Dangriga

    Thanks to Allison Rooteveel for the book drive and Marlborough Elementary School and their Penny War in PA for sponsorship. The following was accomplished in 2010:
    January 12 to January 29, 2010
    Over 2000 students at 4 schools received FREE storytelling and Story writing programs to help them prepare for the National Exam. Nearly 500 books distributed to 3 schools benefitting over 2000 students!

    The 2009 trip was sponsored through the sale of Kristin’s Storytelling CD’s and the sale of hand carved Thai instruments donated by Micheal Thomas.
    February 24 to March 25, 2009
    2156 students at 6 schools received FREE storytelling and story-writing programs. Expansion to Immaculate Conception Primary School in Bullet Tree Falls village.
    Collection of 200+ stories written by Belizean students.
    Positive meeting with President of National Institute of Culture and History.

    The 2008 trip was sponsored in part through the sale of Kristin’s Storytelling CD’s and the sale of hand carved Thai instruments donated by Micheal Thomas.January-March 2008
    Belize Story Writing Project: Kristin provided storytelling and story-writing workshops for nearly 8,000 students and 200 teachers January – March 2008.

    The 2006-2007 trip was sponsored by the sale of Kristin’s home, Belize City Rotary, Rosendo Urbina, and Michael Thomas.
    2006-2007 Literacy Outreach: Kristin provided programs for over 20,000 children at 120 schools, daycares and preschools throughout Belize.

    March 2006 National Library Service Staff Training. Kristin presented workshops on Dynamic Children’s Programming and Storytelling Techniques. (32 libraries in all)

    May 2006 National Library Service Library Tour: presented programs for 14 Village libraries From Gales Point down to Barranco. Books 4 Belize: collected and distributed books to libraries and schools throughout Belize.

    December 2005 Kiwanis Club of Emmaus, PA donated $100 worth of books. Neff’s UCC Church in Neff’s PA donated $500 of new books to the cause July 2006. Friends and family have donated over 2000 books thus far.

    November-December 2005 Where I am From Poetry Project with Muffles College, Belmopan Comprehensive School and Upper Perk Middle School in East Greenville, PA. Over 200 students wrote poems based on George Ella Lyons “Where I am From” poem. The poems were exchanged between the Belizean and American students.

    Collaboration with the University of Belize and presentation of Teacher Training for several at-risk schools.

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    My First CD: “Be Here Now, Songs for the Wonderchild,” is Available on itunes and Amazon!!

    On the heels of publishing my first book, I have released my first cd of music.  It is an all acoustic affair, just me and my guitar.  The songs are all short little meditations and prayers, universal in spiritual scope, and meant to be sung by old and young.  It’s a collection of singable inspiration.

    I wrote all of the songs except for a few of the lyrics on a couple of songs.  I really hope you like it and buy it for yourself and to share.  It’s available as an mp3 download on cdbaby, Amazon, and itunes.  Here are the links.

    Well, the itunes link won’t work in this post, but you can find the cd on itunes under Joseph Anthony, “Be Here Now, Songs of the Wonder Child.”  The other two links work though:
    And here is the title song as a free mp3 download.  Enjoy!

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    Purchase “Following Your Heart’s Desire” Today!

    Whoever you are, your true place is calling, calling, and, because you really are a spark of the Divine, you will never be content until you answer.”  –Emmet Fox


    “Following Your Heart’s Desire…provides a wonderful opening to something better…Anthony shows us how to create a life worth living.”–Brad Yates, author of “The Wizard’s Wish,” co-author of “Freedom at Your Fingertips.”


    If you’d prefer to pay by check, please make it payable to

    Joseph Rogers-Petro for $15.95, and mail it to

    PO Box 1302
    Roslyn, PA 19001

    Excerpt from the book,
    “Following Your Heart’s Desire,”
    by Joseph Anthony

    Do you want to live the life you’ve always dreamed of?

    Do you, once and for all, want to know what God’s plan is for you?

    Do want a life of unlimited abundance and true prosperity?

    Do you want to do work that is truly healing for yourself

    and the world?

    Do you want to live the adventure of a lifetime?

    Does your life feel empty?  Unfulfilled? Discontented?

    Have you lost your passion for life?

    Do you have dreams but don’t know where to begin?

    Do you have talents and gifts that you are afraid to use?

    Does fear and self-doubt hold you back

    from living the life you’ve always dreamed of?

    If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then you are reading the right book, and I am truly glad you’re here.  For you about to discover

    Your Heart’s Desire

    You were born, as the great poet William Wordsworth tells us, “trailing clouds of glory.”  How could it be otherwise? You are a child of God.  What that means is you have powers inside of you that are truly super powers, utterly miraculous, and utterly endless.  They are God given powers–to create and to manifest, to imagine and to build.  You were born with a purpose–hand-picked by the Infinite Source of Supply.  It is a purpose you are free to follow or not.  If you choose to follow it you will live in heaven right here on earth.  You will shine like the sun and help the world to shine more brightly.  You were born to shine.

    And there’s more.

    The talents and gifts you possess are woven together with your dreams. One could say they are your dreams.  Your talents and gifts can lead you to discover your dreams and your dreams can help you discover your talents and gifts.  You were born to express and to share these gifts and talents with the world, and nobody else can do that for you.  I’ll say it again:  You were born to shine.

    So stop a moment, wherever you are, and stand up.  Say these words out loud.  Rise up and claim them as your own: 

    I am a child of God.  I have a song in my heart that is mine and mine alone, and I will not let it die within me unsung.  I am worthy of all abundance and prosperity, for I am an heir to the Kingdom of God.  I am ready to sing.  I am ready to claim my dreams. I am ready to live my Heart’s Desire.


    How exactly do you reclaim your dreams?  The rest of this book will go into the details of the process that I have developed to live my dreams.  It will explain precisely how you can discover and achieve your own Heart’s Desire.

    Here is the Table of Contents:


    One: Divine Discontent                                                                  

    Two: Finding Your True Place in Life                        

    Three: Discovering the Blocks                                    

    Four: Finding a Mentor                                                           

    Five: Disciplining Your Thinking                                

    Six: Dealing With Difficult Emotions                         

    Seven: Forgiveness and Restitution                             

    Eight: Review                                                             

    Nine: Shining Your Light                                            

    Ten: Inspiration for the Journey                                            

    Appendix One:  Affirmations                                     

    Appendix Two: Resources                                          

    “Joseph Anthony is a Spirit Warrior…“Following Your Heart’s Desire” is his blessing to us: a validation of our sacred worth and a practical, yet beautifully poetic guide to discovering it for ourselves.” Jean Raffa, Ed.D. Author of THE BRIDGE TO WHOLENESS, DREAM THEATRES OF THE SOUL, and HEALING THE SACRED DIVIDE. Blogger at

    Purchase “Following Your Heart’s Desire” today for $12.95 +$3.00 shipping, and get started living the life you’ve always wanted.  Read the book by yourself or study it with a group of like-minded friends (a mastermind group).  It also makes a great gift for someone you love.

    If you’d prefer to pay by check, please make it payable to

    Joseph Rogers-Petro for $15.95, and mail it to

    PO Box 1302
    Roslyn, PA 19001

    “Joseph Anthony’s book is a delight for the soul. His writings touch a deep chord with those who are on the path of awakening. This Wonder Child helps us to reclaim and express our innate innocence and heart’s desire. Get ready for a heavenly ride!” Rev. Jill Sabin Carel, Agape Interfaith Ministries



    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    The Promise of Mother’s Day


    Yesterday, as I was driving to Barnes and Noble to write a little bit about Your Heart’s Desire, I realized today is Mother’s Day.  As some of you know my mom passed away three months ago.  And as the knowledge of this day dawned, as if on cue, rain began to fall.  It was a soft, gentle spring rain.  On the left side of the road, however, the sun shined through billowing clouds.   And as thoughts of my mother branched through my mind, my heart thrummed with grief.  Yet I knew, any second: “She’ll send a rainbow.”  And sure enough, just when the pangs of hurt swelled into tears, a rainbow– low, and shimmering, bloomed across the sky.  It was full—with the purple particularly radiant.  I hurried to park the car to get out and stare.  My heart leapt with gratitude. 

    The rainbow, that Promise of eternal life–of ever unfolding creation in spite of darkness and tears, spanned an iridescent bridge across the sky connecting Heaven and Earth.  And it was beyond beautiful.  It was my mother’s love stretching down in a gesture of flowering luminosity.

    And then, after about ten minutes, it began to dissolve, and the backdrop of the dark, late afternoon sky stood steely grey.  But the dark clouds had been touched.  The colors were still there announcing themselves through the many rooms of those drifting castles, kissing the faces of any silken-clad angels sleeping on downy beds. 

    And I can keep moving.  She sent a rainbow, and so I, in turn, send it to you. Obviously my Blackberry’s camera does not capture the brilliance of the rainbow’s triumphant gateway, but you get the idea. 

    So remember, when the going gets tough; when the hurt hurts; when the memories flood your chest and cast their fragrance through the rain of your tears, there is always Light; and there will always be rainbows.  Glorious, heart strumming-mixtures of rain and sun, with the rain being just as crucial to these celebrations as the light.  These Promises have been made for you, for me, for all of us.  Pursue Your Heart’s Desire, find your true place in God’s Universe; find your voice and instrument in His choir of Love and His orchestra of Service—and shine.  Let the Light catch your tears and through them proclaim rainbows of Hope to everyone you meet.



    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    Here and Now


    I am listening to a cassette tape that’s 29 years old.  It’s of my mother and I teaching preschool catechism classes.  I was 14 and her assistant.  It was my first teaching job. 

    Her voice is light and musical.  She leads the children in a prayer: “Dear God, I am your little child.  Thank You for my family.  Amen.”   

    She tells the students I am her son and that I will be her helper, and that I am a good drawer. 

    She tells them not to run outside after class is over.  She doesn’t want them to get hit by a car.

    She tells them they will have a snack and asks me to pass out vanilla wafers and lemonade.  We sit picnic style on the floor. I hear myself whistling in the background.

    While they’re eating, she shows me a house she drew that she is planning on showing them. “Oh is that what that is?”  I tease.  She laughs and says, “I know you could do better, Smarty.”

    She turns on a record of Carey Landry and everyone is singing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” as they draw pictures of their houses and their families.  I hear myself singing.  It’s like listening to a ghost.  It’s me, I recognize the timber, but it’s so much thinner and crackly with adolescent changes.  The record begins to skip.  We laugh.  I give the needle a nudge.

    At the end of class she asks the children if they were good enough to deserve lollipops.  “Yes,” I pipe up.  She gives everyone, including me, a lollipop. 

    I hear us sending off the last of the children.  We are outside.  It must have been a sunny day in spring.

    The tape is going to end soon.  I am dreading the moment.  The wheels carry the tape along like a little brown river.  The hazy hiss of the tape is loud as it flows, carrying memories as it goes, like a river carrying pieces of the sun. 

    There’s a long quiet period.  I can just barely hear my mother in the distance talking with one of the parents.  I wish I knew what was happening.  I hear the wind blowing over the microphone.  I haven’t said a word in several minutes.  I wonder if I am just standing there watching her.

    And then I hear us getting into the car.  The car door shuts.  I hear myself saying: “Oh the tape recorder is still going.”  “Oh you had it on all this time?”  She says.  Then it’s over.  The tape ends.  It just stops.  And with it my heart aches.   I feel suddenly empty.  I don’t know what I was expecting to hear—some kind of secret message?  Just more of her voice?  Part of me wishes I hadn’t turned the tape on.  My feelings are all a bit jumbled.  I feel strangely stunned as if I’ve lost her again.  But no.  It’s just more grief.  I miss her, plain and simple.  There are no regrets—even though regrets are trying to break in and smash the tenderness that exists between us. 

    And it is OK.  I can let her voice go.  I can let go of teaching now if I choose.  I do not need to fear being disloyal to her (or my father, who also was a teacher) if I break away and do something else.  I can fulfill my own dreams.  What matters now is that I remember how quickly it can all end.  How suddenly the tape can stop. 

    I rise up to meet the rest of the day.  There is a calm, but steady urgency.  The wheels are turning.  There are people to love, dreams to manifest, voices to listen to, here and now. 



    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    The Viewing


    My mother’s voice still rings within me, although there have been times over the last few days when I consciously forgot about it, as awful as that may sound.  I take comfort in knowing, however, that, like the resounding song of God that thrums through me and all creation, her voice is there, fragile, yet wrapped in strong, silver chords.

    I hadn’t seen my mother since December.  She was frail and sickly then, but I thought she would live a few more years.  Seeing her body in the open-casket viewing this past Tuesday, was both shocking and reassuring.  For as a result of working through my amends I was able to make peace with my mom a few years ago.  Together we shared a sweet, intimate connection.  We spoke often of saints and matters of faith.  And while she still held on to the sadness that I was the child “who moved away,” she still appreciated that we could talk the way we did—openly and comfortably. 

    So there she was—dressed in a red sweater, hands folded across her chest, as if, as the poet, Bill Knott* says, “she was flying into herself.”  Under her hands were her rosary and her prayer books.  And since she loved crossword puzzles and did several every day, my brother tucked the one she would have done on February 18th at her side.  She had on golden earrings, and my brother, a barber, had actually gone into the funeral home the day before and cut her hair.  How tender that image is to me of him cutting her hair.  I am not sure I could have done that.  I told him how grateful I was for his loving act.

    She looked peaceful, a bit stern, almost like a royal bird lying there—light as a feather.  She looked healthier, oddly enough, than I had seen her in years.  I kept expecting her to rise up and say, “Hey, what’s going on?”  So many feelings—angry, sad, dramatically tragic, strangely silly, peaceful, happy, all swirled through me as I saw her lying there. 

    A kindly old woman from my mom’s church came up to me as I stood there and said, “She looks peaceful.  I sure hope she’s in heaven.”  “Why wouldn’t she be?”  I asked.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” the old woman said, “it’s just that one never knows.” “I do,” I said, “my mom is in heaven right now, singing and dancing with the other angels and saints.  She’s doing whatever she loves to do.”  “Oh dear,” apologized the old woman, “I didn’t know you were her son.  I’m so sorry for your loss.”  And, looking rather embarrassed, she slunk away. 

    I turned back to my mother’s beautifully decorated shell and, while my heart aches to be able to speak with her again, bake bread with her again, or just sit with her in silence at the kitchen table again, I know—all dogmatic theology be damned—my mother is in heaven, happy and singing, truly, a bird on a wing.

    *The Naomi Poems: Corpse and Beans

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    On the Death(?) of my Mother

    I wrote that previous entry a few days ago and had it scheduled to be published this morning.  Little did I know that my mother would pass away Saturday morning.  She died in her sleep of congestive heart failure.  She lives in Detroit and I live in Philly. We spoke last week and it was a pleasant talk.  I was trying to encourage her to use positive affirmations and to have faith in her prayers.  She sounded weak, but in good spirits.  I did not know that would be good-bye.  When I got word of her death I was buying coffee for my wife.  My sister called crying and told me what happened.  As I walked back to my car my knees began to shake.  For while we knew our mother was failing in health, we did not know how much longer she had.  And so she has moved on.  This is what she wanted.  She was suffering and nearly incapacitated these last few weeks.  Now, I believe, she is resting in her Savior’s arms.  She has been transformed, in the twinkling of an eye, as Paul says, into conscious contact with the Wonder Child.  In fact, I daresay, she is a Wonder Child—“For behold, ye are sons and daughters of God.” 

    And now I have yet another opportunity to demonstrate the ideas wrote in the previous post.  And because I have the loving support of friends and family, and because I do walk hand-in-hand with the Wonder Child, I know “that out of every season of grief and suffering, I shall see His marvelous wonders to perform.”

    So my family and I are on our way to Michigan for my mother’s funeral.  And because I am not over being self-centered, I struggle through worrying about what other people will think of me for how long we are able to stay after the funeral, while at the same time slowly grasping the idea that I will not see the physical form of my mother again.  And as I move through the process of feeling my feelings—the grief and the anger, I can’t help but remember a poem that Emmet Fox put it his book, Power Through Constructive Thinking (Plus) :


    There is no death!  Our stars go down

    To rise upon some fairer shore;

    And bright in heaven’s jeweled crown

    They shine forevermore.


    There is no death!  The dust we tread

    Shall change beneath the summer showers

    To golden grain or mellow fruit,

    Or rainbow-tinted flowers.



    The granite rocks in powder fall,

    And feed the hungry moss they bear,

    The fairest leaves drink daily life

    From out of viewless air.


    There is no death!  The leaves may fall,

    The flowers may fade and pass away;

    They only wait through wintry hours

    The coming of the May.


    And, ever near us, though unseen,

    The fair immortal spirits tread;

    For all the boundless universe

    Is life; there is no dead!


                                                    Attributed to Bulwer Lytton

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    Special Thanks to Lefty’s

    Before I get too much further on this blog, I want to thank my host, “Lefty’s”  This is my first time ever making a blog and I am not all that computer savvy to boot.  This morning I had several questions about creating this blog and I called their customer service center.  The gentleman I spoke with was so kind, patient, and understanding.  He kept saying, “no worries.”  This is exactly the kind of nurturing the Wonder Child needs when embarking on a new adventure.  The agent never spoke down to me.  I felt safe to ask any questions I had.  In fact, he anticipated questions that I didn’t even know I had–but I had them!  So, anyone considering getting a website or a blog, use Lefty’s  They are awesome!  Here’s their link: lefty’  Have fun.  Cheers.

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog