Ix Chel Tropical Research Center & Foundation

not-for-profit OF BELIZE

"Take the children as though they were your own. Train them and teach them to help each other."

Don Elijio Panti to Rosita Arvigo

The Bush Medicine Camp

Each year for the past fourteen years, this wonderful summer program has been sponsored in part by a generous grant from the Gildea Family Foundation of the United States. Dr. Ray Gildea Sr. who believed strongly in the Man and the Land, left a foundation for his four children to donate to world-wide projects that promote environmental programs. Other donations to BMC and our continuing programs in Belize are supported by tithes from teachers and students of The Abdominal Therapy Collective.


The Hibiscus and Allspice Girls with their counselors at Summer Bush Medicine Camp in Belize sponsored by donations to ICTRF from ATMAT practitioners and classes.


Junior and Senior Counselors with Patti Gildea, Bush Medicine Camp sponsor for 23 years, getting ready to roll.


Bush Medicine Camp teaches foot baths and foot massage....they never wanted to stop. "WE WANT MORE!"


China Root Boys with counselor at Summer Bush Medicine Camp, 2019


Learn to Grow School Garden Project

In 2013 we established a 10×30 foot vegetable and herb garden in the primary school of SANTA Elena, Cayo District in Belize. It is tended, watered and enjoyed by the 5th grade class of Ms Fernandez.

“I tell those boys, Miss Rosita, ‘You can’t water those plants three times a day!’"

The After School Program

From 2005 until 2012 ICTRF sponsored an after school program for twenty-four children ages seven to fourteen. Children arrived after school hours to receive help with homework, school reports and studies. They were assisted by a staff of three paid tutors. After homework was completed, they were given a snack and allowed to play games, sing songs and run around the yard chasing each other.

Ethnobotany in the Classroom

Salome Oliver, assistant to Dr. Arvigo for seven years, now spends three days of each week teaching grammar school children at Sta Elena Primary School in Cayo District, Belize about the edible, useful and medicinal plants growing in their back yards, neighborhoods or in the nearby rainforest. The local school district has included these half-hour sessions in their Social Studies as a regular part of the curriculum.

Useful Plants of Belize Exhibits

Six annual exhibits on edible, medicinal and useful plants of back yards and wilderness were conducted in San Ignacio, Cayo District. Two thousand school children attended over a five day period. Exhibits included Plants for Healing, Carpentry, Basket Weaving, House Construction, Musical Instruments and Plkant-Based Professions. Traditional healers shared old-time stories, myths, and jungle lore.

More Projects

  • My Backyard Garden Plants

    Local schools participated in three annual contests to see which sixth grade class could produce the best book of medicinal plants that grow in back yards. The students had to make colored illustrations of the plants, interview elders about their uses in traditional medicine, produce a book cover, index, contents page and acknowledgments. The prize for the school varied from a new computer, a copy machine or a charge account at a local school supply store.

  • Scholarships

    Each year ICTRF rewards two scholarships to worthy high school or university students. Abdel Cowo, now 22, was able to complete his degree in secondary education on a four year scholarship with Ix Chel Tropical Research Foundation. Shahira Muschamp, a young mother of a two year old son, was awarded a scholarship to complete her college education. She will graduate in 2013. Sonia Coho, a Kekchi Maya young woman was awarded a scholarship in 2013 to persue a bachelor’s degree in nursing sciences in Belize City. She will complete her studies in 2014.

  • Tree of Life Newsletter

    An occasional (about two times a year if the creek don’t rise and there is no hurricane) newsletter of ICTRF activities full of traditional home remedies. To subscribe for only $30 a year write to Dr. Rosita Arvigo, Ix Chel Tropical Research, Sta Elena, Cayo District, Belize, Central America. The newsletter will soon be offered online as well.