Nongovernmental organizations focusing on charitable and service activities and private enterprise projects have been active for many years in Belize. These groups include Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere (CARE), Project Hope, and Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA). But a different type of nongovernmental organization became increasingly common in the 1980s. These organizations had no formal ties to political parties but they exercised political influence through their efforts to raise the political consciousness or to develop a group identity among their constituencies. These organizations included ethnicbased associations, such as the Toledo Maya Cultural Council, the National Garifuna Council, and the Isaiah Morter Harambe Association; women's groups, such as the Belize Organization for Women and Development (BOWAND), Women Against Violence (WAV), and the Belize Rural Women's Association (BRWA); and other groups, such as the Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR), whose mission encompassed social and economic analysis, popular education and training, advocacy campaigns to promote social and economic justice, and research, seminars, and publications about Belize. Many of these organizations depended on grants from foreign government development agencies and nongovernment organizations to supplement locally raised funds. The long-term viability of these organizations remained unclear because these grants were often provided only as short-term "seed money."
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