Our founder, Rik Sowell, first went to Belize in 1987 on a mission trip with his church to assist with the construction of a classroom building for a Christian primary school. Very little was accomplished and the school was left with a partially constructed two-room facility. However, relationships were established that eventually led to the work of The Iguana Squad today. On a return trip to Belize in 2001 to visit friends made on the original trip, Rik became aware of the great need for classroom space for private Christian schools. The waiting list was long but facilities were lacking. He kept thinking that someone needs to step up and do something about this situation. At that moment, he realized, as an architect, he had the knowledge and ability to do something himself. “It was a transforming moment in my life, a calling if you will. I knew I had to answer.” Rik returned to the states with a sense of urgency to do something.
In partnership with First Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas, and in association with The First Church of the Nazarene, Rik returned the following spring with a group of volunteers to construct an addition to the Howard Smith Nazarene Primary School in Benque Viejo del Carmen on the western border of Belize. Thus began the work of The Iguana Squad. He did not realize it at the time that the efforts of The Iguana Squad would expand to become a force in Christian education in the tiny country of Belize.
Today, with God’s blessing, The Iguana squad continues to construct facilities in various parts of the country. Classroom space for over a thousand children has been provided and the need for more space continues to grow.
“In my opinion, a good education is a key to the future success of these kids when that education occurs in a Christ-centered environment”, Rik said. “Christian education provides both short-term and long-term benefits. It is our goal that all children educated in these facilities become responsible independent citizens of Belize with a desire to conduct themselves in a Christian manner. Our goal is to impact the lives of the children, their families and their communities through our efforts to provide aid and improve the quality of life.”
The Iguana Squad added medical missions in 2008. Thousands of Belizeans, with limited access to healthcare, have been treated by our skilled doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and other medical personnel.