Saturday, April 24, 2010


The Force-National Softball Champs-2010 "click to enlarge"

Crooked Tree Village Girls softball team, the Warriors, defeated Stann Creek by a score of 8-0 to capture the National Softball Championship title on Friday, April 23, 2010. This win capped off an incredible season for Crooked Tree, and is the second time consecutively that the school was able to bring home the National Trophy. Elma Wade was named the Player of the Year!!

The Master of Ceremonies was Mrs. Patrick Henry. Mr. Michael Henry, Director of Sports gave the Welcome Address and Mrs. Rosalie Gentle opened the games. The schools that participated in this year’s female championship are: Crooked Tree School (defending national female champion) representing the Belize District, Corozal Methodist School representing the Corozal District, Independence Primary School representing the Stann Creek District, St. Francis Xavier School from Esperanza Village representing the Cayo District, and representing the Toledo district Toledo Christian Academy.

It was a sweltering 92 degrees at the Rogers Stadium, a do or die day for Crooked Tree, but that did not stop the Warriors from burning down the competition.

Immediately following the opening ceremonies, Crooked Tree Warriors wasted no time to defend their title.

The first game was against Corozal Methodist, and winning pitcher Elma Wade, led off Crooked Tree with the first run, and she was followed by a flood that quickly washed away Corozal 20-0.

The second game was against Cayo, one of the best teams in the competition. The first two batters for Crooked Tree, Wade and Jex were struck out, but Jasmine Lauriano, Zepporah Taylor, and Sherelee Adolphus scattered three base hits allowing Crooked Tree to recover the first inning. In the final inning Wade and Jex fought back with a whipping to complete the game at 5-1 victory for the Warriors.

There could not have been more drama in the third game as Crooked Tree came in like lightning flashing across the sky, burning up the Toledo District 23-0.

The final game was truly a team effort by the Warriors. With bases loaded at the top of the second, Tromiesha Tillett blasted a home run against Stann Creek driving home all three bases. With their fans shaking down the fence, Zhanae Jex of the Warriors responded in kind, ripping through Stann Creek to finish the competition 8-0. Elma Wade struck out nine batters in this final game. 
Elma Wade, Player of the Year "Click to enlarge"
At the end of the games, Mrs. Rosalie Gentle, CEO in the Ministry of Sports, Youth, Information, and Communication presented the National Primary Schools Softball Championship trophy and the individual ribbons to the respective winners.

Elma Wade, the winning pitcher, gave a strong pitching performance. She said, “I wasn’t tired at all, I just used my curve; I wanted to keep them guessing, and to show them that we are a force to be dealt with”.

"We really set the bar high, there was never a doubt in my mind that we were going to win today" said head coach Alden Wade. "This victory was measured in talent rather than dollars…but we really would like to thank the parents of these girls, Principal Verla Jex, teachers Winnie Gillett and George Tillett, as well as all our community, friends and supporters, they came through for us in a big way”.

Warriors Coach, Anna Gillett said, “this is incredible, they were just unbelievable! We were ready this year, our girls are a powerhouse, and we knew if anybody could do it, it would be us. We came here with only one thing on our minds, a repeat of the championship games”.

After their bus arrived in Crooked Tree Village, the Warriors victory set off a wild celebration through the roads of the village late into the night.

The coaches and teachers would like to take the team to Chetumal, Mexico for an outing on May 24th. If anyone would like to contribute to their trip, please send a small donation to the school at the address below.

Principal Verla Jex
Crooked Tree Government School, Belize District
Belize, Central America

All photos by Winnie Gillett

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Crooked Tree Village School girls - 2010 Belize District Softball Champion
Front Row L-R: Zhanae Jex, Daniella Lightburn, Zipporah Taylor, Jessica Gillett and Sherelee  Adolphus
Back Row: Lennisha Gillett, Starlee Gillett, Tromeisha Tillett, Jasmine Lauriano, Roshanie Tillett, Elma Wade, Alma Crawford, Tara Tillett. Coach Alden Wade and Coach AnnMarie Gillett

Captain Jasmine Lauriano receiving the trophy from Charles Slusher, Belize's best score keeper

Crooked Tree Village School Girls successfully defended its Belize District Championship on Monday April 19, 2010 in Belize City at the Rogers Stadium to once again capture the Belize District crown. Coach Alden Wade said they are very upbeat and confident because he is a big believer in the skills of the team and repetition drills. “We put the team together, during practice we work on certain things, and then split the team into groups. We do specific drills on the essentials; we practiced them over and over until the girls get them just right.”

The first game was against Holy Redeemer Primary School (HRPS) with Crooked Tree School leading the score in the top of the first inning, as Zhanae Jex, the first in the line-up, wasted no time in scoring the first run for Crooked Tree. Meanwhile, Elma Wade, the winning pitcher, started retiring each batter in the line-up for Holy Redeemer. Once on base, Captain Jasmine Lauriano quickly became a threat to HRPS, generating base-hits.  Beneath her warm smiles and friendly demeanor, the girls from HRPS thought Zipporah Taylor would cut them some slack, but little did they know that beneath those smiles lurks their fiercest competitor. Taylor led off the bottom of the fourth with a bang, scoring three runs for Crooked Tree by the end of the game.  Crooked Tree Warriors had no problem knocking Holy Redeemer into the losers’ bracket, wrapping up the game with a 21 to 2 victory.

In the second game, Warriors’ pitcher, Elma Wade was as cool as a cucumber when she stepped up to the plate to face Burrell Boom Primary School. The degree to which the Warriors put their hearts into this game was reflected in their level of performance on the field. The fans were on their feet as Crooked Tree upset Burrell Boom with a 9 to 3 victory.

The coaches said that they were really pleased that Elma Wade was able to shut the batters from Burrell Boom down. “We knew what our girls are capable of, and we were trying to be very careful of every pitch and every bat. This win today was not won only on the field, but as results of our practice and drill. We are proud of our girls, they did a great job, and this is a wonderful day for Crooked Tree Village!!”

On Friday, April 23, 2010, the team will again travel to Belize City to represent the Belize District in the National Primary School Championship games at the Rogers Stadium. Go Warriors!!!

The principal of Crooked Tree Village School, Verla Jex, teachers Winnie Gillett and George Tillett would like to thank the parents and villagers of Crooked Tree Village and all those who donated funds to make the team’s trip to Belize City possible. 

If anyone would like to help the teams with their uniforms and supplies for next season, please send your e-mail to Verla Jex at Or you can mail her at: 
Verla Jex, Principal Crooked Tree Village School, 
Crooked Tree Village, Belize-Central America

Whatever you can contribute would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow and his wife Kim Simplis-Barrow  at a ceremony at the Bonnie Book Golf Course in Waukegan, IL. 
Over the weekend, April 16-18, the prime minister of Belize, Dean Oliver Barrow and his wife Kim Simplis-Barrow made a historic visit to the Mid-Western United States. Accompanying the prime minister from Belize was the Hon. Michael Finnegan; Minister of Housing, and the Hon. Patrick Faber; Minister of Education. 

The Prime Minister’s visit began with a welcome reception on Friday evening, April 16th at the American Legion in Morton Grove, attended by a number of local dignitaries, including Belize Ambassador Nestor Mendez.

On Saturday April 17, the prime minister met with Waukegan Mayor Robert Sabonjian and a luncheon was held in his honor at Bonnie Brook Golf Course in Waukegan, which was followed by a question and answer session and a “Black Tie” dinner at the Hanging Gardens Banquet Hall, 8301 W. Belmont Ave., in River Grove at 7 p.m.

The next day, a public forum and performances by Belizeans in greater Chicago area was held at the Hanging Garden Banquet Hall, which was also followed by a question and answer session. Many Belizeans attended this historic event, which was the first visit to Chicago by the prime minister. The forum gave Prime Minister Barrow and the Ambassador of Belize the opportunity to address issues concerning Belizeans living in the US. 
Local Belizean Performers
The Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber said that they visited Evanston Township High School where they met with the Principal and other heads of departments at the school.  There they discussed math and science and other subjects that would help the students in Belize.

The Prime Minister also met with Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago and Belizeans at the events said part of their discussion centered on support from Mayor Daley on gang violence in Belize.

The prime minister and his party returns to Belize on Monday, April 19, 2010.

All photos by: Alli Crawford

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Coal Bed in Crooked Tree

Charcoal making in a coal bed is a traditional occupation in rural Belize that has now become almost extinct. I had some experience as a youth helping my father with his coal beds as we processed and gathered the charcoal for sale; I can say that the preparation of charcoal in a coal bed is an arduous and dirty task. It was done by only a few villagers as a last resort to earn a little money to provide for their large families in Crooked Tree Village when seasonal jobs were hard to come by. The charcoal was a cash product with limited use in the village, because cooking and baking was done with firewood – usually from oak or logwood. Villagers would sell their charcoal in burlap (called crocus) sacks to the sole buyer in the village, Isaac Jones Sr., who would transport them in his small riverboat to Belize City for sale to customers in the bakery business. 

The coal beds were concentrated in what is locally known as the “Pine Ridge” area of the village.  The oak, palmetto and pine trees that are used in making a coal bed are most common in this area, growing in the wild among the cashew and countless other fruit and berry trees. Large and middle-sized oak trees are cut down with an axe, trimmed, and chopped into logs which are stacked, with the larger logs placed on top and across two parallel pine planks that form the first layer of the bed. The progressively smaller oak logs are stacked on top in a rectangular shaped bed, approximately six feet high and varying in length and width. The logs are then covered with a thick layer of palmetto leaves to enable ventilation and to separate the logs from the thick layer of sand that would then be used to cover the logs in the final preparatory stage for burning.  

To facilitate the slow burning process against the wind, the coal bed is usually spread from west to east. It is completely covered with dirt, except for the west end which is stacked with tarry, flammable pine wood that is a durable source of ignition. After the fire is set to the pine wood to start the burning process, palmetto leaves are quickly placed over this part of the bed and covered with sand. At this point, ventilation holes are poked in both sides of the bed until you can see puffs of smoke gushing from the holes. This signals that the burning is underway. To control the burning process, the first set of ventilation holes extends only to a third of the bed and is monitored closely throughout the week or so that it takes to complete. When the smoke is no longer coming from the first set of ventilation holes, that’s the signal that the burning has reached that point and new holes have to be made farther down the bed to facilitate the ventilation. After the burning process, the bed is left to cool off for a few days before the coal is gathered into crocus sacks for sale. 

By: Winfield Tillett 

Photo by:W. Maheia

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


This is a segment to honor and recognize outstanding Belizeans and their descendants for their accomplishment and contributions to life.  As a proud Belizean, I believe it is imperative that we support and promote Belizeans both at home and abroad. You are an important part of our community. We hope we can inspire our children to reach for the stars.

You can nominate a candidate for Belizean Spotlight that you believe has excelled or contributed to our life.

Previous “Spotlight of the Month” can be found in the archives.
Resilient, hard working, compassionate, honest and dependable, and a mentor to many are some of the words I can find to describe this inspirational woman who has dedicated her life as a loyal Public Officer and Community Organizer to the people of Belize.  As a result of her many years of service, in 1998 Queen Elizabeth II of England bestowed upon her the well-deserved title of Dame Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (DCMG). She is a woman with a passion for women and compassion for children in Belize.

Ms. Elaine, as she is known by many of her friends, was born in Belize City, the third child of Leolin and Elston Kerr, Sr. Her father was the winner of the first and second Cross-Country Bicycle Championship in 1928 and 1929 and second place winner in 1930. Her mother the late Leolin Gillett who later married Mr. Sarco Gillett after the death of her first husband lived for many years in the Village of Crooked Tree. At the age of four years Miss Elaine went to live with her Aunt Mrs. Ethel Marshall and her husband Mr. Dudley Marshall a senior Officer of the Belize Police Force. Her guardians inspired her to do her best and to help others.

After passing the necessary local examinations, Miss Elaine began her teaching career at the Salvation Army School in Belize City.  She later transferred to the Methodist Mission where she taught in various schools in Belize City, Gales Point, and in Dangriga Town.  During these years of teaching Miss Elaine continued her community work as a Girl Guide Captain, Youth leader and Sunday School Teacher. Miss Elaine was also one of the first 15 teachers to attend the then newly opened Belize Teachers Training College.

In 1957, Miss Elaine left the teaching profession to join the Belize Public service as a Probation Officer in the Social Development Department.  This department was at that time responsible for all general Welfare work on behalf of families, Women and Youth work, Probation and Court work, Work with Village Councils and Disaster Relief work.  Today this department has been divided into several independent units.  Miss Elaine rose through the ranks in her department until she became the Head – the first woman to be made a Head of Department in the Belize Public Service.

Under her watch, Miss Elaine initiated and developed many programs that were beneficial to the lives of people of Belize. Some of them included expanding the 4-H movement in Belize, and establishing the National 4-H Training Center at the National Agricultural Show Grounds in Belmopan. In this movement she promoted the expansion of an exchange program between Michigan, USA and Belize in the areas of 4-H and Home Economics. 

Her compassion for the well being of children led her to establish the Youth Development Center at Mile 22 on the Western Highway, a Residential training facility for boys 14-21 years, where they were taught agriculture, trade skills, and personal development. After establishing the boy’s center, Ms. Elaine went on to develop a Home Economics School in Belize City for young girls and a Home for girls with behavioral problems. She also founded the first Home for neglected children, now called the Dorothy Menzies Home in the Kings Park area in Belize City.

Because of her work and passion for women, she instituted the first Women’s Bureau, which has been expanded and upgraded to become the Women’s Department, in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation

Miss Elaine forged on with determination to institute some of her other major work and programs which included work with the Village Councils, promotion of Rural Women’s Groups, Welfare and Court Work for Women and Children, and Disaster Relief throughout the country.

In 1981 Ms. Elaine left intact a well developed Social Development Department to become the Director General of the Belize Red Cross. In this capacity, she worked to acquire new offices for the Belize Red Cross, which is now situated at Gabourel Lane and Handyside Street in Belize City today. She expanded the various programs at the Belize Red Cross, one of which has grown into the present day Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. A major part of her tenure as Director General was beginning the process of getting the Belize Red Cross recognized as an independent society.       

In 1983 Ms. Elaine left her beloved Belize with her 3 young children, Yvette, Dean and Terese and husband Winston to live in Los Angeles, California. Once there, she dedicated her time to the welfare of her family. By now she was well known by Belizeans at home and abroad for her public service; therefore, she was sought out and became a member of the Consortium for Belizean Development and worked with other NGO’s committed to the improvement and welfare of Belizeans.

After watching her last child graduate from college in the US, she moved back to Belize in 1994 and was offered and accepted the position of Executive Director of the National Committee for Families and Children, (NCFC) from 1994-1998. The NCFC is an advisory body to the Government of Belize for services and supports to families and children; monitors the progress of Government and Civil Society towards meeting the goals of the various United Nations Conventions on behalf of families and children.

In 2002 Miss Elaine worked as a short term Consultant at UNICEF for the formation of a project “Towards a National Consensus on a Comprehensive Policy and Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents in Belize. This was a project in which the two main Political parties participated and signed an agreement to implement these plans by whichever party formed the Government.

Through her hard work and perseverance, Miss Elaine achieved numerous awards and grants from around the world:

1965- Leadership Grant from the US Government to study Social Work Practices in the United States.

1976- Awarded Member of the British Empire by the Queen of England for her services to the Belizean people.

1998- Awarded the Dame Commander of the order of St. Michael and St. Johns (DCMG) (equivalent to Knighthood for men) from the Queen of England for her outstanding services to the Belizean people.

1999- Listed in the British Edition of Who’s Who.

Today, Dame Elaine Middleton continues her unwavering work for the people of Belize as she served on the board of YWCA of Belize, as President from 2002 – 2009, as a member on the Board of Management of Wesley College in Belize City, and member of various committees in the Methodist Church.

Miss Elaine earned a Degree in Social Work Practice from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. , has an Associate of Preceptors degree from College of Preceptors in the United Kingdom, Diplomas in Social Welfare and Administration and Applied Social Studies from the University College of Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, and a Trained Teachers Certificate from the Belize Teachers Training College. 

Although Dame Elaine Middleton has achieved a great deal in her life time to be proud of, I think she is most proud of the legacy she left to her own children, and the 8 wonderful grand-children who call her grand-mother

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Belizeans in the Chicagoland area are preparing for an official visit by the Prime Minister of Belize, the Honorable Dean Barrow and Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow on April 16-18, 2010. The primary purpose for the Prime Minister's visit to the United States is to participate in a number of events focused on broad based national dialogue encompassing and addressing social and economic development issues in Belize and increase government's outreach and visibility among its Belizean constituents here in the U.S. 

Events scheduled for the Prime Minister's visit will include a Welcome Reception, Benefit Fundraiser with proceeds going to the underprivileged children in Belize, and a Public Forum specifically addressing issues concerning Belizeans living in the United States.

Honorary Consul for Belize, Debbie Schell, who is working closely with the Concerned Belizeans, Inc., said "There may be other dignitaries including Cabinet level officials accompanying the Prime Minister on his important visit. This is a great opportunity for the United States and Belize, and may prove to be invaluable for both nations. The Prime Minister is looking forward to meeting and speaking directly with local Belizeans in the United States".

Linsford Pitts, President of Concerned Belizeans, said "The visit by the Prime Minister presents a rare opportunity for Belizeans in the United States to meet with Belizean leaders and discuss their role in Belize's development plans and its future. The last visit by a Belizean Prime Minister to Chicago was in 1987 by then Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel."

If you'd like more information about the Prime Minister's visit and scheduled events, please see below.

For info contact:

Contact:       Linsford Pitts          Leroy Viamille 
Tel.               847-612-5768          773-895-6284

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Ethiopian Orthodox Church

Lalibella Crosses
Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in Africa, is a land of stunning natural beauty, and hosts a rich diversity of people with many cultural backgrounds, values, ethnicities, and religions! In a region dominated by Islam, Ethiopia has remained the only Christian nation in Africa that co-exists with Islam peacefully. For centuries, many invasions by Islamic warriors have proven futile, as they were counter-attacked by the many Christian kings who led the people to victory in these wars. To this day, Ethiopia remains a country with a majority Christian population and a considerable coexisting Islamic community. It is fascinating to see how the country survived the various negative influences in the region to become peaceful. 

The Ethiopian Easter, also called Fasika, is one of the greatest festivals of the Ethiopian people, celebrated with its truest meaning after 40 days of fasting. All churches (both orthodox and protestant) preach and practice the reason behind the celebration. The Christian community in Ethiopia consists of a majority of Orthodox Christians (the type of Christianity that has existed for centuries in the land) and the vibrant and growing Protestant Christians who came to the scene about half a century ago. There are basic similarities in the way Easter is celebrated in both congregations. The one unifying belief is that both accept Christ as the Messiah who came to save the world from sin and gave His life for the redemption of souls. Both also believe that He is coming back to rule the earth from Jerusalem, the Holy City, according to Bible prophecy foretold thousands of years ago. Both congregations celebrate this special occasion with great anticipation and in a way that highlights the climax of the Christian faith.

In the physical aspect of things, it is very common for families from both religions to slaughter a lamb in remembrance of what the Israelites were commanded by God to do as they were leaving Egypt in the Torah (Old Testament), led by Moses into the Promised Land. Some regions of the country even slaughter their lamb by the door posts of their houses, strengthening the meaning all the more.
At the Easter service all Ethiopians wear a traditional white clothes, called Yabesha Libs.

The week before Easter is commemorated as the week of the Celebration of Hosanna or Palm Sunday, when Christ came into Jerusalem sitting on a colt with multitude waving palm tree leaves. It is customary to tie palm tree leaves on foreheads or make temporary ornaments from the leaves during this day by the Orthodox Christians. In the days that follow after the Hosanna celebration, many in the Orthodox faith go to churches and prostrate themselves a number of times in the church to atone for their sins.

In the Protestant churches this season is seen as a special occasion to reflect on the price that has already been paid by Christ to atone for the sins of the world. Thus, this season calls for reflection into one's lifestyle and considering whether one is living up to the liberty purchased by Christ. Protestant churches also believe strongly that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that no other way can lead a soul to the one true God. Fasting and prayer is also practiced by both churches. In the Orthodox Church, a 40-day fast from meat, eggs, milk and all dairy products ends on Easter Sunday.

The main religious celebration takes place on the night before Easter Sunday. It is a somber, sacred occasion; many protestant churches hold over-night services and people remain there with candles and warm clothing. The service commences at 9:00pm and around 4:00am – 5:00am, singing starts and a very joyous celebration of the rising of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is celebrated 'till morning! In recent years, it has become a norm to hold special services in the stadium bringing several denominations and churches in the Protestant faith together.  

In conclusion, Easter in Ethiopia is a very vibrant and splendid religious festival that unites all Christians from all walks of faith and allows them to focus on the central theme of Christianity.

By Dawit Habtamu, an Ethiopian student in Addis Ababa