Friday, February 25, 2011

BELIZE CANCER CENTER-DANGRIGA



I am Dellone M. Pascascio, a Belizean born in Corozal Town. I grew up and went to high school in Dangriga, then immigrated to the US in 1968. I am currently working for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services as one of its senior Chief Nursing Officers and serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army.
More significantly, on October 1, 2008 Dr Ellsworth Grant and I opened the first Cancer Center in Belize (Belize Cancer Center-Dangriga) to address a major gap in the health care system and mitigate the extreme hardship of persons in Belize living with a cancer diagnosis. The building housing the Center was donated by my aunt Mrs. Julia Cain.

Opening the center in Dangriga would not have been possible without the support and commitment of Dr. Peter Allen, CEO, MOH, Dr. Beatrice Thompson, Dr. Melissa Espat and Dr. Alba Mendez-Sosa. Credit and sincere recognition must also be given to the people of Dangriga without whose support and encouragement the center could not survive.

The heart of the Cancer Center beats because of its incredible and dedicated staff. Dr. Ellsworth Grant, Hematologist-Oncologist, Sister Carolyn Obi RN, BSN, an experienced chemotherapy certified nurse, Emily Sarmiento, business office coordinator. Other important clinical consultants include Alfred Jervis, certified pharmacy technician, Linda Lewis-Brown, Pharm D, pharmacy consultant, Dr. Pablo Gonzalez, Pediatric Oncologist and Dr. Sharon Lewis, Pediatrician.

The Cancer Center offers chemotherapy treatment for a wide range of cancer diagnosis. It serves both children and adult and coordinate care through consultation/partnerships for services not provided by the facility.  One such significant partnership is with the National Palliative Services-Belize, directed by Dr. Beatrice Thompson. The center also manages patients with sickle cell disease, other hematologic and auto-immune illnesses.

This center is funded by some donations but the bulk of its funding for day to day operations is from the personal accounts of Dr. Grant and I. We take this center very seriously. We fund to ensure it will always be there for the benefit of  those persons with cancer and their families who cannot afford treatment outside the country.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis in Belize is more frightening that it is in other neighboring countries. Traveling to seek care for those who have no financial means to do so it is agonizingly burdensome and socially disruptive. Our Cancer Center Team has one objective: to provide safe, sensitive, personal and confidential service to our people as best we can, giving them at the very least, a fighting chance at surviving cancer.

Many individuals are very afraid to even say the word "Cancer" and fear delays their sense of urgency to seek consultation and treatment from the one place with expertise to help.  I simply want to encourage anyone who has a cancer diagnosis and has not sought care to call the Cancer Center Dangriga and we will walk with you every step of the way. 

All photos from Raquel Battle

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MIDDLE EAST WRAP: MAD DOG OF THE ARAB WORLD

Mu‘ammar Qadhafi


Weekly round-up of the Hebrew newspapers in Israel; covering the major events happening in Israel and the Middle East. 




The vast majority of the news coverage in the Israeli papers on Wednesday is foreign news, leaving little room for domestic coverage. Most of the Israeli newspapers lead their Wednesday editions with the New Zealand earthquake, in which dozens of people – including, it now seems, three or four Israelis – were killed. The papers report that Israel has offered to send disaster relief to New Zealand.


The only paper which did not lead with New Zealand is Haaretz, which continues to lead with events in Libya. According to the paper’s lead headline – which also appears on the front pages of the rest of the papers – Qadhafi has vowed to remain in his country and fight to the last bullet, rather than cede control.



Yedioth Ahronoth, Maariv and Israel Hayom dailies all have banner headlines, proclaiming that Mu‘ammar Qadhafi’s regime is on the brink of collapse and that, in the final throes of its existence, it is lashing out at anti-government protestors. According to the lead headline in Haaretz, upward of 600 people have been killed in protests across Libya. The paper goes on to say that counter-measures have included Libyan air force jets bombing civilians and tanks shelling demonstrators.


Internet websites report Tuesday that two Iranian warships have entered the Suez Canal on their way to the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian officials said that the vessels entered the canal in the early hours of the morning. Iran has claimed that the warships were headed to Syria ‘for training,’ while Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and others called the move a ‘provocation.’


Iran informed Egypt that the vessels – a frigate named Alvand and a supply vessel named the Kharg – have no military equipment, no nuclear materials and no chemicals on board. Israel has yet to issue a formal response to the Iranian ships' entry into Suez, but senior sources in Jerusalem told Israel Radio on Tuesday that they are ‘following the developments.’

‘Israel knows where the vessels are and is conducting situation assessments with senior American officials,’ the sources said. ‘Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has discussed the developments with the U.S. Ambassador in Israel, James B. Cunningham.’


Egypt stated Monday that allowing the ships to pass did not signal a change in its policies, because it was obliged under international law to do so. There has been concern in Israel and elsewhere that the permission for the Iranian ships passage signals a rapprochement between Iran and Egypt, following the revolution against Husni Mubarak.
Iranian Warship Believe to be Carrying Advanced Weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon
But  the Israeli daily Maariv reported on Wednesday, citing security sources.
The sources told the paper: "Estimates indicate the two ships are carrying missiles of different range, rifles, ammunition, and night-vision gear... The voyage of the two ships is an Iranian attempt to go around the arms embargo on Hezbollah."
The paper also said that it is believed the voyage is an attempt on the part of the Iranians to "test the waters" with and gauge the responses of the Egyptian Supreme Military Council and its stance towards Tehran.
Elsewhere, The Jerusalem Post reports on its website that a test late Monday evening of the upgraded Arrow anti-missile missile on the West Coast of the United States has been a success. The 18th test of a missile in the Arrow family covered improvements intended to help Israel deal more efficiently with future threats. It complements a test which took place in April 2009.


The Green Pine radar system detected the threat, which was launched from a platform in the Pacific Ocean. The information was relayed to the Arrow launcher, and the missile downed the threatening target.


Meanwhile, Israel Hayom reports that Netanyahu met with reserve general (and Israel Hayom commentator) Yaakov Amidror on Monday evening, as part of his effort to find a replacement for National Security Advisor Uzi Arad, who announced his resignation on Monday. The Prime Minister's Office confirmed the meeting, calling Amidror ‘one of the leading candidates’. A statement by the office said that Netanyahu will meet with other candidates and announce his final decision in the next few days.


The fallout from the U.S. veto at the UN continues to make headlines in the Israeli press – on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.


On the Israeli side, Haaretz reports that the Jerusalem planning and building committee took three plans for construction in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem off its agenda, saying that the plans were not yet ripe for discussion. However, the paper hints in its headline that this may be an Israeli gesture to the Obama administration, to ‘thank’ it for vetoing the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning settlement activity.


Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, says he is willing to travel to Gaza in the interest of reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas, even at the risk of conceding security control in Gaza to Hamas. Speaking to Palestinian journalists, Fayyad said a unity government would precede reconciliation.


Regarding relations with the United States, Fayyad said the U.S. tried to stop the PA from submitting condemnation of Israel to the United Nations because the PA is weaker than Israel. He said the PA was angered because the U.S. wanted it to change its position in a disparaging way, and that the PA could not be bought by U.S. economic aid.


And in parliamentary news, Netanyahu decided Monday to give members of his Likud faction freedom to vote on the establishment of committees of inquiry into the funding of left-wing NGOs. Following Netanyahu's decision, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu faction – which had proposed the committees – asked for the vote to be postponed.


Since it appears that most MKs are opposed to the probes, which have been criticized as McCarthyist, Netanyahu’s move effectively killed them off, prompting Maariv to headline the news on its front page: Bibi’s revenge. Inside, the paper explains that, after Lieberman announced on live television that he opposed Netanyahu’s selection as the next ambassador to London, relations between the two leaders have been strained. The paper goes on to say that Netanyahu took this opportunity to ‘repay’ his foreign minister by nixing the probe that, in any case, he was opposed to.


In a related move, the Knesset passed Monday legislation requiring NGOs to issue quarterly reports about funding they receive from foreign governments, and say whether they are supported by other countries on their websites and in advertisements. The bill, which was sponsored by coalition chairman Zeev Elkin of the Likud, passed its final reading in a 40 to 34 vote.


Finally, in Israel Insider security agents stopped an Irish journalist from trying to make a citizen’s arrest of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the press room of the European Council in Brussels on Tuesday. David Cronin, a freelance journalist who has written for The Economist and is a member of the Brussels press corps, shouted, ‘Mr. Lieberman, this is a citizen’s arrest. You are charged with the crime of apartheid. Please accompany me to the nearest police station.’ Before he could advance towards the foreign minister, security agents swiftly escorted him out of the meeting room as he shouted ‘apartheid’ and ‘Free Palestine.’ Yoel Mester, a spokesman for the Israeli mission to the EU, told The Guardian that Cronin is ‘obviously obsessed with Israel; judging by what he's written, [he is] a dedicated anti-Israel activist.’


Photos courtesy of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SOCIAL INVESTMENT FUND DONATES TO YOUTH FOR THE FUTURE


YFF Director Christine Smith receives computers from Mr Daniel Cano, SIF Executive Director

Belmopan, Wednesday, 23rd February 2011:  An assortment of computers, including digital cameras and projectors, were presented this morning by the Social Investment Fund (SIF) to Youth for the Future (YFF) and the Community Policing Unit (CPU) as part of a project to assist both organizations in the continuous training of youths seeking online job opportunities.

Sixteen desktop computers were provided to YFF and CPU, which will allow their resource centres to provide young persons direct access to the job market places so that they can work without interrupting the internet services to regular users. 

The equipment was presented by Mr Daniel Cano, Executive Director of the Social Investment Fund, while Ms Christine Smith, Director for YFF and Senior Officials from the Police Department received the equipment on behalf of their respective organizations.  The equipment is valued at $33,210.00
Youth For the Future and SIF officials during presentation

The equipment complements a month-long computer training program, held in October last year, which provided training for some 30 Belize City Youths for the online job market. The objective of the training project was to sharpen the computer skills of the beneficiaries so that they can access jobs at online job marketplaces and service providers such as www.oDesk.com, www.getacoder.com and www.Freelancer.com, using the internet at the resource centres operated by YFF and CPU.

In addition to providing training in the general use of a computer and internet, the project also provided the participants with specialized training  in Web Page Design, Quick Books, Photoshop and MS Office. CARDICOM,  a local computer training provider, provided the computer training while Youth for the Future  provided the training on job preparedness.  This training included topics such as resumé writing, effective writing of job application letters, conflict resolution, setting of employment goals and work ethics among others

The training was a joint venture of the Social Investment Fund, Youth for the Future and the  Community Policing Unit (CPU) and was financed through a grant from the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF5), a program promoting poverty reduction through socio-economic initiatives and community empowerment.  BNTF is jointly financed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and nine beneficiary governments, including Belize
Commissioner of Police, Crispin Jeffries receives computers from Mr Daniel Cano, SIF Executive Director
 Job creation continues to challenge most countries, including Belize, and many are beginning to realize that computer skills can provide access to the global or local work force using the internet and other developing technologies.

YFF is a youth centered agency under the Ministry of Education and Youth.  Its  primary responsibility is the empowerment of our young people to participate meaningfully in the present and future development of Belize at every level. YFF is headquartered in Belize City and has district offices countrywide. YFF is also responsible for the 4-H Youth Development Centre and the National Cadet Service Corps.

The Yabra Community Police Centre on Ceasar Ridge Road, Port Loyola, Belize City is operated by the Community Policing Unit as an initiative by the Police Department to address crime through good relation with the community.  This is being developed by participating in and promoting numerous activities, which are aimed at assisting residents  to improve their lives and ambiance.  The centre collaborates with several organizations such as the Conscious Youth Development Program (CYDP), Youth for the Future and government agencies and is considered a model in the region. In addition to Port Loyola,  the Centre also offers its services to other critical areas of Belize City and other district towns with similar conditions.

For further information please contact Mr Mike Hernandez Jr. J.P., Director of Public Relations, Social Investment Fund, at Tel: 822-0239 or via email at mike.hernandez@sifbelize.org

All photos from SIB-Belize

REMINDER: MINISTER OF EDUCATION AND YOUTHS IN BELIZE TO VISIT LOS ANGELES

The Consulate of Belize is encouraging our Belizean Community to come out and engage the Minister at the two listed public events. We look forward to see you there.  


Saturday, February 19, 2011

MIDDLE EAST WRAP: IRANIAN PROVOCATION


Starting this week I will have a regular round up of the Hebrew newspapers in Israel. This will cover the major events happening in Israel and the Middle East. 


On Thursday Israeli newspapers lead with what they unanimously refer to as the latest Iranian ‘provocation.’

The provocation in question, is the arrival of two Iranian warships in the Suez Canal, which Yedioth Ahronoth Newspaper says , are on their way to Syria.

While the Iranian plan to send two vessels through the waterway has been known for some time, it came to the wider attention of the Israeli media on Wednesday night, when Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, addressing the visiting delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, became the first Israeli official to mention the plan. Lieberman added that, to his regret, the international community is not showing a readiness to deal with what he called recurring Iranian provocations. He added that Israel could not forever ignore these provocations.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak also commented, saying Wednesday that ‘Israel is closely following the movements of two Iranian ships and has updated friendly states on the issue. Israel will continue to follow the ships’ movements.’


There were, however, conflicting reports from Egypt on the matter. On Wednesday evening, the Suez Canal authority clearly stated that it has no knowledge of any Iranian ships coming their way, adding that no Iranian naval vessels have gone through the strategic strait since the 1979 Revolution.


The head of the canal's operations room, quoted in Haaretz Newspaper, told AFP, ‘Any warship needs approval from the Egyptian Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. We have seen no such approval. Before they pass, I need to have such an approval in my hand.’

On Thursday morning, Israel Radio reported that the Suez Canal Authority said they have been informed that the plan has been cancelled. It was not immediately clear who was behind the cancellation, but – according to the Haaretz website – the Al-Arabiya television station reported that Egyptian authorities had blocked the ships from crossing.

Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post

Friday, February 18, 2011

COMMENTARY: ROBBERY

Channel 7 and Jules must be congratulated for their investigative report on how the gas companies are gouging consumers without even the least bit of remorse. What makes this even more egregious is that the poorest of the poor, those that can least afford it, are bearing the brunt of this scam that has put millions of ill gained profit in the pockets of these predators, these shameless thieves, these vampires that have systematically sucked the consumers dry for God knows how long. I was watching Krem Morning News today, and Mose Hyde commented that in any other country these parasites would have their business destroyed or shut down, and he is right. When a business that the nation as a whole is dependent on for survival betrays the consumers' trust, drastic measures have to be implemented to remedy the wholesale larceny that is taking place.

To make matters worse, this so called Bureau of Standards is a joke. The person in charge seemed clueless as to what has been going on and has apparently been dragging his feet and just following the gas companies' line, instead of exhibiting righteous indignation at the perfidy that is on going. In fairness, I believe the bureau is way understaffed and apparently is left to its own devices, ergo an unsupervised industry that is a law unto itself.

When you look at LP Gas & Supplies and how much cheaper and honest their way of doing business is, it's a wonder that people would still do business with these other companies that are so blatantly and repeated taking advantage of the innocent customer that works hard for his/her money, only to be taken to the cleaners by these legitimate con men. Maybe LP should just open offices all over the country and make the other companies honest.

Finally a lawsuit should be filed to get all those stolen profits back into the hands of consumers that have been robbed. Either the government or the consumers themselves should file class action lawsuits to stop this from ever happening again, hit them where it hurts, in their pockets. These parasites should be made to pay. And they must always be under scrutiny.

By pele    

This blog is not responsible for the views expressed in the commentary segment; all views expressed are the responsibility of the commentator, not the owner of this blog.

VIEW FROM CROOKED TREE VILLAGE

Visitor to the front yard of Dr. Jane Crawford
Northern Tamanduas are members of the Anteater family, which makes them very easily mistaken for their Anteater cousins. There are two types of Tamanduas; the Southern Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) and the Northern Tamandua (Tamandaua mexicana).
The Northern Tamandua can be found in the areas ranging from southeastern Mexico to south throughout Central America and west of the Andes from northern Venezuela to northern Peru.
The Tamandua possesses a long tapered head and a long, tubular mouth with an opening only as wide as the diameter of a pencil that allows for the protrusion of their tongues. Their fur is thick and bristly as well as yellowish-white in appearance; there is also a broad black lateral band that covers nearly the whole side of their body.
While Tamanduas have very small eyes and extremely poor vision, they possess a strong sense of smell and hearing that allow them to track their prey. With their extremely strong forearms they are able to rip open nests and use their elongated snouts and rounded tongues to lap up their insect prey.

When these amazing creatures are frustrated they tend to communicate their frustration by hissing and releasing an unpleasant scent from their anal glands. Should they be confronted in a tree they tend to grasp a branch with their hind feet and tails in order to use their strong forearm strength in order to defend themselves.

By Dr. Jane Crawford-Photos by Dr. Jane Crawford

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BELIZEAN SPOTLIGHT-FEBRUARY 2011


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.


February’s profiled personality is an individual who came from humble beginnings; from the neighborhoods of Paper Alley/Usher Street in Belize City to the halls of City Council in London, Ontario, Canada. He is intelligent and from childhood had a drive to succeed and make a difference in the lives of others. He has a passion for equity and fairness, and has used that to fight for his constituents in Canada. He is a Prostate Cancer survivor, and has used that platform to educate and add to the understanding of the disease. He is an Engineer, an author and a motivational speaker as well. He has received countless awards and belongs to several organizations, making a difference in the lives of many. It is fitting that he is profiled for February, the observance of Black History month in the United States and Canada, because he is the first and only Belizean, Caribbean and individual from the African Diaspora, to be elected to the City Council of London, Ontario in Canada. This month’s profiled personality is Mr. Harold Lindsay Hughbert Usher, known by some in Belize as Harry Usher.
Harold Lindsay Hughbert Usher
February’s profiled personality is an individual who came from humble beginnings; from the neighborhoods of Paper Alley/Usher Street in Belize City to the halls of City Council in London, Ontario, Canada. He is intelligent and from childhood had a drive to succeed and make a difference in the lives of others. He has a passion for equity and fairness, and has used that to fight for his constituents in Canada. He is a Prostate Cancer survivor, and has used that platform to educate and add to the understanding of the disease. He is an Engineer, an author and a motivational speaker as well. He has received countless awards and belongs to several organizations, making a difference in the lives of many. It is fitting that he is profiled for February, the observance of Black History month in the United States and Canada, because he is the first and only Belizean, Caribbean and individual from the African Diaspora, to be elected to the City Council of London, Ontario in Canada. This month’s profiled personality is Mr. Harold Lindsay Hughbert Usher, known by some in Belize as Harry Usher.

Many who know Harold, know him as the city councilor, or the motivational speaker, or even the author who wrote the book “Prostate! Prostate! Prostate! A Problem of Men,” to help men deal with diseases of the prostate, including prostate cancer, but few know “Harry” the young man who grew up in Belize City , who, as a kid, woke up at 4:30 am every morning to go door to door, selling hot johnny cakes, which his mother baked.    

Growing up in Belize
Harry was born in Stann Creek (currently Dangriga) of Belize. His parents Violet McKesey and John (Jack) Usher were told that their new born baby son would not live to see his first birthday because he was born three months premature and weighed only 3 lbs and 6 oz. His mother nurtured him and gave him all the necessary sustenance to survive, grew up and excelled. He was still a baby when his mother moved from Stann Creek to Belize City, so he spent all his formative years in the city, but still goes back to Stann Creek every time he goes home to Belize.

Life in Belize was the best for him. Growing up he always had lots of friends and an entrepreneurial mindset. Besides selling his johnny cakes every morning, he owned a four-wheel push cart that he would take to the Belize market early mornings and people would pay him to cart their purchases from the market or court house wharf to their houses. He was a small person and many times had difficulty pulling the cart up and over the swing bridge. But he didn’t give up. Each morning he struggled and was determined and so overcame all obstacles that came his way.

Harry used to set up a stand on his cart on Saturday mornings, at the corner of Pickstock Street and New Road to carry out his entrepreneurial activities. He would also buy young chickens, fatten them up with coconut trash, plantain skins and corn and sold them at a profit as grown hens. He also remembers buying green plantains cheap, and later sold them for a profit after they became ripened. He even sold white firewood by the bundle, as well as many other items from his cart stand. He used to purchase raw squash seed (pepitos) by the quart and patch them and sell them at Matinees or Football games by the match box full. Remember him?

Harry attended St. Mary’s Primary School in Belize City. When he graduated from Standard VI he was the only student from the school to be offered two scholarships, one to St. Michael’s College and the other to the newly established Technical High School. He had dedicated and applied himself in primary school, but he had teachers like Mrs. Maureen Hinkson, Miss Young and Miss. Reyes each of who influenced him to work hard and do his best. But the teacher who had the most profound impact on him was Miss. Crystal Slusher. Harry remembers Miss Crystal as being energetic and enthusiastic about her students. She emotionally invested in them and ensured that they applied themselves to their school work. She made a young Harry believed in himself and gave him the confidence he needed to believe he could do anything.

Harold Usher chose to attend Technical High School in Belize City for four years. He was among the first group of students to enter when the School opened its doors for the first time on January 7, 1952. He completed the four-year program in December 1955. The class also took the Cambridge Certificate Examinations. He doesn’t really remember a graduation ceremony taking place, they were told they had completed high school and were sent home. He remembers there were classes for boys and a class for girls at the beginning. Each year, there was a new additional class for boys that started every January, but there were no new classes for girls; not until January 1956, after the first set had completed their high school program.

At Technical High School, the teacher that most influenced Harry was Mr. Leslie Dennis. Harry remembers him as being very much approachable and intelligent. Mr. Dennis was from Jamaica, he was away from home, but he poured himself into his work and ensured all his students learned and inspired them for the life that lay ahead.

Migration for Study and Work (Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Canada)
After Technical High School, Harry went to work at Brodies until 1958, when he won a scholarship to study Construction Drafting in Puerto Rico for one year. He returned home in 1959 and since he wanted to become a Minister, taught at Wesley Primary School for one year. He was not satisfied with the speed of achievement Belize offered him in the late fifties. He had a taste of life outside of Belize, and realized that the goal was limitless, but he would need to leave Belize. “I wanted to make something of myself, that would allow me and my future family a sustainable good quality of life and to make a contribution to the world around me to make life better for others,” he remarks. 

He decided to go to Jamaica in 1960 to work and be closer to the Methodist Theological Seminary. He stayed there for 3 ½ years, but did not enter the Ministry, instead finding work as a Draftsman with architectural firms. While working there he was persuaded daily by a Canadian friend to move to Canada. “Harry, I think you should go to Canada,” he would say. After months of badgering, Harry finally decided to inquire into legally migrating to Canada. The entire process from application to acceptance back then took him four months. He vividly recalls the day he arrived in Canada, “I arrived in Toronto at 8:40 pm on July 1, 1963 (Canada’s birthday), and the sun was just setting.” The moment is permanently etched in his memories, for it was a sign of a brand new start for him. 

Harry went to Canada with a high school education, $300.00 in his pocket, a suitcase of clothes, and big dreams. Canada was the only viable option for him. He didn’t want to go to England, he didn’t have someone to sponsor him to immigrate to the United States, and going back to Belize in 1963 was not an option. He found a job as a Draftsman, within two weeks after arriving in Montreal, Canada. He also recognized and seized the opportunity to attend University at night to upgrade his education. It took him six years on a part-time basis to complete two- years of university courses. Recognizing that time was of the essence, he quit his job, obtained financial assistance and attended University full time. He graduated from Sir George Williams (currently Concordia) University three years later with a Bachelors of Engineering – Civil, Degree. Looking back, Harry said “it took a lot of sacrifice on my and my wife’s part to accomplish that, but we have no regrets.” Obtaining his Civil Engineer degree was his ticket for a better lifestyle for himself and his family.

Upon graduation, Harold was hired by Bell Canada, the telecommunications giant, as an Engineer. In 1981 they transferred him to London, Ontario. He continued to work for them until 1996 when he changed his career to Speaking and Training.

The City Councilman (London Ontario)
On October 25, 2010, Harold Usher was re-elected in Municipal Elections in London, Ontario, Canada with 52.4% of the electorate. The victory was his fourth win in local elected politics, he was elated and proud that all his hard work campaigning had paid off. But the win also made him reminisce back to 1994 and why he wanted to enter elected politics to begin with. For him, it had seemed like a natural process, he had volunteered and worked on several community projects, belonged to several committees, organizations, and Boards including the Race Relations Advisory Committee in London, Canada. He sat on several organizations’ Board of Directors, including Toastmasters International, London Multicultural Youths Association, Fanshawe College of Arts and Technology, the Consortium for Belizean Development, and others. All the work he was doing was aimed for the betterment of the citizens and the community. So he thought why not run for elective politics, where he would really have a chance to be effective and most importantly, bring about change.

Deciding to enter the political horse race was the easy part, winning was another matter. He tried twice without winning, in 1994 and again in 1997, for his bid to represent Ward 6 for the City Council in London, Ontario. Then the year 2000 came around and he decided to try again, he was determined, for he had something meaningful to offer and he truly believed he could make a difference. He was an advocate for lifelong learning, safe communities, healthy living standards, sustainable social and economic development, human rights, fairness, justice and equity, diversity in the workplace, opportunities for the disenfranchised, housing for the homeless, and support for the financially less fortunate, particularly youths, seniors, jobless, disabled, immigrants and foreign trained professionals whose trainings go unrecognized.

He won for the first time in three tries in 2000. He said, with a smile, “I never lost, it was just a three-step process.” His victory not only made him the first, but also the only person of African/Caribbean ancestry to be elected to the London, Ontario City Council. He enjoyed working for and on behalf of his constituents. He works on the premise that “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” And he cares. The citizens of London, Ontario approved of the good work Representative Usher was doing and returned him as their representative in 2003 and again in 2006. As the issues became more complex and critical for his constituents, Councilman Usher became more energized and determined to be the representative who tackled difficult issues and got things done.

His latest victory in November 2010 was his fourth consecutive. He won the election by a landslide, beating out his five opponents handily, gaining more votes than all theirs combined. During the campaign, Usher stated that besides his ten years representing the people of London, ten years of which he was extremely proud of, there were certain things he still needed to do to make sure that things were in place for his constituency and the citizens of London, Ontario. Representative Usher had unfinished business, he still had more fighting to do for the people of his Ward. He pledged “to continue to ensure, improve and sustain the good quality of life for residents.” As a City Councilor representing his constituents, he continues to advocate for the strong principles he did when he first ran.

Today, beside being a City Councilor, Harold sits on several Boards where he makes a great contribution to the community, including Goodwill Industries, EMO Workforce and Development Board, two Toastmasters Clubs Executives, Western Fair Association, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, London Transit Commission, Lake Huron Primary Water Supply Board, Consortium for Belizean Development, and several others.

The Prostate Cancer Survivor
In February 1998, Mr. Usher was diagnosed with prostate cancer. To date, it’s the most difficult news he has ever gotten from a doctor. His emotional state was one of disbelief. He initially went into denial. He explained that having prostate cancer one does not have any symptoms and so it’s difficult for one to believe that it is harmful. But if no action is taken by the diagnosed, the cancer starts eating away toward outside the capsule, and is always on the verge of metastasizing to other parts of the body. It took him about six months to come to grips with the reality of his diagnosis and to start dealing with it.

He realized that he was completely ignorant about the disease. He found himself in unchartered territory. There were two critical things he had to do (1) learn more about the disease and (2) get a complete understanding of the treatments that were available and choose the one that was best for him. Choosing which treatment to accept was the most difficult part of fighting the disease. The treatment and the process are complex and it is crucial that men have a full understanding of the after-effects of any treatment. It took him about two years to decide on his treatment of choice, which was surgery. It could have been a deadly wait, “it was much too long, I could have died…..God was on my side,” stated Harry. “I certainly would not recommend that any man wait that long. They should read my book and learn from it.”

In researching the disease, he was stunned to discover that men, do not really give much thought to their health. For the most part, men are reluctant to go in for a medical check-up, and even more so when it involves a rectal examination. In his research he found that few men understand the prostate, its location and its significant function. Another important fact he uncovered was the importance women play in both the diagnoses and treatment. He put his findings and experiences in a book, which he co-authored with renowned Canadian Urologist Dr. Joseph Chin, entitled “PROSTATE! PROSTATE! PROSTATE! A Problem of men.” Check it out at www.haroldusher.com or write husher@rogers.com.

The Motivational Speaker
In 1996, he started his own speaking and training business. He created a company called “Adventures in …” SEMINARS & SPEECHES.” He became a public speaker, offering motivational and inspirational speeches to the public. He also delivers human resources development training and speeches for companies, and their employees. This again was a natural process for him. In 1984 he had joined Toastmasters, an international, non-profit educational organization dedicated to honing its members’ skills in public speaking and helping them acquire qualities necessary for good leadership. Distinguished Toastmaster Harold Usher has remained a member of the organization to this date and has received many distinguished awards from the organization, including the Presidential Citation in 2000, Leadership Excellence Award (for high performance) in 2006 and the Distinguished Toastmaster honor in 1989, 1996 and again in 2007. He served on their International Board of Directors from 1992 to 1994. 

Mr. Usher has received countless other awards, too many to mention, but there are a few that are really special to him and stands out. In 1992 he received the Excellence in Teamwork Award from Bell Canada. 1992 was a special year, for he also received Canada 125th Commemorative Medal from the Governor General of Canada. Recently, he received the Joint PEO and OSPE Citizenship Award in 2008 and the London Black Community Achievement Award and African Canadian Achievement Awards in 2009 and 2010 respectively. For the same consecutive years he’s been honored with being selected as the Honorary Chair for the Fathers Day Walk/Run Fundraiser events for Prostate Cancer Research in London Ontario and in 2010 he was invited to Seoul, Korea to witness the launching of Korea as a “Medical Tourism Destination” to treat Prostate Cancer.  

Influences and Mentors
Mr. Harold Usher is an accomplished individual. He has been deliberate in pursuing his goals and with the help of some individuals who have truly trusted him and allowed him to fly he was able to achieved. In recognition of all those who have helped him, and there are many, to achieve what he has achieved, he has adopted an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE, principle. He says “Thank You.” Among the many, there are four individuals who have made an outstanding impact on him during the time he needed it most, and it’s with their help that he was able to persevere. Rev. Claude Cadogan, a Belizean Methodist Minister, who persuaded Harry to see that life was full of possibilities and he must be opened, believed in himself and embraced the opportunities that came his way.  Mr. Bernard Bloomfield, a Canadian Jewish businessman and philanthropist was another who impacted his life. When Harold decided to attend university full time to complete his engineering degree, it had to be financed and he also had a family to still maintain. Mr. Bloomfield made sure that Harold had access to the necessary finance for schooling and personal use eight months for each of the three years that he attended full time. Dr. Matthew McDouglass, a Trinidadian born Professor, provided the inspiration and mentorship Harold needed to complete his civil engineering degree.  He was a professor and Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department at Sir George Williams University. He paved the way for Harold and made sure he entered his third, fourth and fifth years of the program at the university. For Harold’s entire three years at the University, he was a friend who provided guidance and inspiration for Harold to complete his education. The final of the four persons who have had a tremendous impact on Harold’s life was Mr. Jim Hillel, a Jordanian born District Manager for Bell Canada. He took a chance and had faith in the new Civil Engineer and hired Harold immediately after graduating from university.

The Family Man
Harold is married to Melba Marie (nee Wright) of Belize. The two were teen-age sweethearts; they first met when they were both attending St. Mary’s Primary School. The couple has been married since September of 1964. They have three daughters, Natalie, Stephanie and Melanie. All three children were born in Montreal. His eldest daughter, Natalie is married with three children. The second, Stephanie is also married with five children, including two sets of twins. Their youngest daughter Melanie is unmarried and has not yet started a family. His family has been a source of strength for him. He has their love and support in all that he does. They have been his inspiration. 

Mr. Harold Lindsay Hughbert Usher is a Belizean Canadian. He came from humble beginnings and has achieved much success. Throughout his lifetime he has had positive influences that helped him become the person he is today. He has a family whose sacrifice and support gave him the courage to soar. He no longer lives in Belize, but continues to regard Belize as his native country. He loves Belize, and continues to give back and talk it up whenever the opportunity presents itself. He possesses a strong sense of fairness and is motivated to help others; to be the voice of the voiceless. Harold’s Mission in life is to “inspire and empower, individuals to better themselves and achieve a “sustainable good quality of life.” He is a determined individual who overcomes obstacles to achieve his goals. And most importantly, he loves life and believes it’s a precious gift. One of his goals is to meet 1,000,000 people and touch 100,000 lives before he leaves this world. YOU might be one of them.

And those, ladies and gentlemen, make him the SENSATIONAL Harry Usher!

BY: Kim Hernandez

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW SCHOOLS IN SAN VINCENTE AND HOPE CREEK VILLAGES


New San Vincente School
New Hope Creek School
Hope Creek Old School Building 
Two major school projects, which will address the educational needs of children in San Vicente and Hope Creek Villages in the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts respectively, was officially inaugurated Feb 10th and 11th, 2011 .  The total cost of both projects is approximately $1.3 Million and will benefit some 446 students.

Both projects were implemented by the Social Investment Fund, a statutory body under the auspices of the Ministry of Economic Development. 

The new school building in San Vicente Village was inaugurated on Thursday morning, 10th February at the project site.  This project consisted of the construction and completion of a 25 ft wide by 240 ft long one-storey reinforced concrete school building with timber and concrete roof and strip and pad foundation, comprising of six classrooms, a library, and principal’s office and a male and female bathroom block. All exterior doors are solid timber panel doors and the windows are storm guard aluminum louvers. Also included in the project were the installation of electrical, lighting and plumbing fixtures, and a standard septic tank with soak-away waste water system and the provision of school furniture, including teachers tables and chairs, students’ armchairs, cupboards and bookshelves.

The total cost of the San Vicente School project was $414,000.  Of this amount, $331,000 was a grant from the  Basic Needs Trust Fund  (BNTF 5), a program promoting poverty reduction through socio-economic initiatives and community empowerment.  BNTF5 is jointly financed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and nine beneficiary governments, including Belize. The Government of Belize contributed $83,000 in counterpart funding. Some 140 school children will benefit from the new school, which will also serve as a hurricane shelter. Prior to the project, the children were housed in a small wooden building.

San Vicente is a remote village located 40 miles northwest of Punta Gorda Town near the Belize/Guatemalan border and 5 miles from Jalacte Village. The village was established around 1986 by farmers from Jalacte and surrounding areas.  San Vicente has a population of 329 inhabitants.

Children of San Vincente School
Cutting of symbolic ribbon
Hon Patrick Faber delivering address
 
Minister Faber presenting gifts to the school
 Ministers: Patrick Faber, Juan Coy and Eden Martinez
Meanwhile, the new Hope Creek Methodist School was inaugurated on Friday morning, 11th February at the project site in Hope Creek Village. The project included the construction of an 8,800 square foot, two-storey reinforced concrete structure measuring 30 ft 6 inches wide by 144 ft long. The building has four classrooms, a library, an administration office and a female bathroom block on the ground floor.  The first floor has four classrooms, a computer laboratory and a male and female bathroom block.


Hope Creek Methodist School has been growing in population since it was established seven years ago.   Prior to the project, the children were housed in prefabricated buildings, which were in very poor condition.  The new school building will, therefore, provide an enhanced educational environment for both children and teachers.  A playground with swings, slides and seesaws, school furniture along with some landscaping was included in the project to further enhance the children’s educational environment. Some 306 children will benefit from the project. 
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New Hope Creek School
Cutting of ribbon at Hope Creek School 
Hon Patric Faber delivering address

Area Rep. Arthur Roches delivering address
The new Hope Creek Methodist School was financed by the Government of Belize through the Commonwealth Debt Initiative (CDI) at a total cost of $888,645.00  The community of Hope Creek contributed materials and labor for the project. 


The new Hope Creek Methodist School was financed by the Government of Belize through the Commonwealth Debt Initiative (CDI) at a total cost of $888,645.00  The community of Hope Creek contributed materials and labor for the project. 


Hope Creek Village is situated in the Stann Creek Valley Area of the Stann Creek District along the Hummingbird Highway.  It has a population of about 1,500 persons and was established in 1962.

The guest speaker at the inauguration of both projects was the Hon Patrick Faber, Minister of Education and Youth, along with the respective Area Representatives, Ministers Juan Coy and Hon Arthur Roches, as well as representatives of the Social Investment Fund among others.

Press Release 4-2011 For further information please contact Mr Mike Hernandez Jr. J.P.,  Director of Public Relations, Social Investment Fund, Tel: 822-0239/0508 or mike.hernandez@sifbelize.org Cell No. 602-6491.


All photos from SIF-Belize