Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BELIZE AND GUATEMALA MEET TO DISCUSS TERRITORIAL DISPUTE

Roger Haroldo Rodas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala  and Wilfred Elrington, Attorney General, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Belize

  November 28, 2011

Today, at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), delegations of Belize and Guatemala, headed by their respective Foreign Ministers, the Honorable Wilfred Elrington and His Excellency Haroldo Rodas Melgar, met with OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, in a highly cordial and cooperative atmosphere.

The Foreign Ministers expressed their profound appreciation to the Organization of American States and its Secretary General, and underscored the effective and efficient work of the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone between Belize and Guatemala, which has been working since 2003 to maintain peace and stability between the two countries.

Both Minsters also clearly recognized the political, technical and financial support provided by the Group of Friends of Belize and Guatemala over the years, and most recently by Canada, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In this connection, they also agreed to convene, along with the Secretary General, a meeting of the Group of Friends in Guatemala City on December 12, 2011.

The OAS Secretary General welcomed the renewed commitment of the Foreign Ministers to comply with the terms of the Special Agreement, signed on December 8, 2008 under the auspices of the OAS, with regard to holding the simultaneous referenda. To this end, the Secretary General will convene a bilateral meeting immediately after the electoral processes in Belize have concluded, with a view to holding the referenda before the end of the year 2013.

The Secretary General urged the Parties to begin the education campaigns aimed at sensitizing the public, prior to holding the referenda, and reiterated the full support of the OAS to carry out this task.

The Foreign Ministers also agreed that the Secretary General would convene a meeting of the High–Level Working Group during the first quarter of 2012 to strengthen cooperation and coordination between inter-governmental agencies, as well as to identify joint opportunities and programs in the fields of education, technical cooperation, and development to consolidate the already friendly relations between the two neighbors.

Press Release

A gallery of photos of the event are available here.


For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.P


 Photo: OAS Gallery on Flicker

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GLORIA SERANO:TRIPLE MEDALIST, CENTRAL AMERICA JUNIOR C CHAMPIONSHIP

Gloria Serano at the 2011 Central American Jr. Champions in June of this year 
Back home in Belize after winning three medals
Gloria, proudly displaying her medals

On Thursday, November 24th 2011 15 year old Gloria Serano flew out of Belize under the charge of a stewardess to compete in the Central American Junior C (ages 14 and 15) championship in Managua, Nicaragua. She was unaccompanied by her coach or the other athletes who had been selected. 

On Friday she competed on her own in the shot put and won with a distance of 12.43 m, 7 centimeters short of the Central American record which she aspired to beat. Her performance is the farthest throw by a junior C athlete in Belize.

On Saturday she competed in the javelin and received the bronze medal with a throw that was 2 meters shy of her personal best.   

Sunday morning she competed in the discus and placed first with a distance of 31.28 meters. The Central American record is currently 31.60 meters. She will not have another chance at these records since next year she has to compete in the Junior B category.


Her discus throw is the farthest by any Belizean female of any age. As a result she holds national records in the discus for 4 separate categories.

It is unfortunate that the very organization that has the primary responsibility of developing our athletes to glorify Belize in Central America and elsewhere, while also helping them to develop into positive contributors to society and role models for all our citizens, is primarily responsible for her failure to attain her aspirations.

Hopefully this will be looked on as a learning experience for the future endeavors of the Belize Athletic Amateur Association.


Photo #2 and #3 courtesy http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/63793

Monday, November 28, 2011

BELIZE RURAL HIGH SCHOOL CAPTURES SILVER MEDAL IN PANAMA

BELIZE RURAL HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL CAPTURES SILVER MEDAL IN PANAMA

The III Central American and Caribbean Scholar Games came to an end today in Panama City, Republic of Panama. Belize participated in girls’ softball, and came up with the Silver Medal today, when it loss a heart breaker to Venezuela by the score of 7-4.

This is the first time that Belize participated in the competition, and the result shows that it can compete with any of the countries in the Americas. Team Belize scored a total of 39 runs and gave up only 21. Venezuela finished with a perfect record in the competition with posted lopsided victories against Colombia and El Salvador. Venezuela’s true and only test in the competition was against the girls’ from Belize.

Belize advanced to the final round of the competition as the number one seed in its division defeated Guatemala by the score of 12-3 on Saturday November 19, and qualified to the playoffs when it defeated Panama on Friday November 18 by the score of 11-7.

PRESS RELEASE

Friday, November 25, 2011

MIDDLE EAST WRAP: REVOLUTION REDUX IN EGYPT


Weekly round-up of the Hebrew newspapers in Israel; covering the major events happening in Israel and the Middle East. Haaretz-Maariv-Yedioth Ahronoth-Israel Hayom-The Jerusalem Post-Ynet 

Stories about the escalating turmoil in Egypt competed for space on the front pages of most of Israel’s newspapers on Thursday, Nov 24, 2011. Yedioth Ahronoth leads with the story about two shooting incidents on the Egyptian side of the border. At around 8:00 P.M. Wednesday, two Egyptian police officers were killed in a shootout with drug smugglers not far from the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. And according to Yedioth, the Israeli army maintains that the deaths did not result from its gunfire.

Shortly after the first incident, IDF troops noticed a suspicious van pull up near the border, apparently seeking to pick up the drugs that were due to be supplied by the smugglers. Soldiers opened fire, but no bodies were found. Afterward, they recovered a handgun and a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

According to Yedioth, Israeli officials are concerned that despite the fact that Israeli soldiers were not responsible for the deaths of the two Egyptian policemen, the Egyptian media will blame Israel for the incident, shifting public opinion so that the ruling military council could be compelled to take drastic steps, like recalling the Egyptian ambassador from Tel Aviv.

The two most popular dailies, Yedioth and Israel Hayom, both dispatched reporters to cover the events unfolding in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Both correspondents observed how the square was filled with protesters predominantly Islamists, a worrying development from Israel’s standpoint. According to Eldad Beck of Yedioth, the demonstrators in the square are not just venting their anger at the head of the ruling military council, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. But Israel is also the subject of their rage.

 Beck quotes one demonstrator shouting. “The military council is activating the Israeli weapon against us. They are shooting at us like the Israelis shoot at Palestinians in Gaza.”

 “’The youths of the revolution’” who belong to the ‘Facebook generation’ who took down the Mubarak regime are seeing before their very eyes how the democracy which they so desire is being ripped out of their hands,” Beck writes in Yedioth. “Since the profile of these demonstrators is different from fomenters of the ‘January 25 revolution’ – poorer, less educated, easier to incite, and devoid of deep political thought – anti-Israel rumors and slogans quickly spread.”

 Israel Hayom’s correspondent in Cairo, Boaz Bismuth, reports that Muslim Brotherhood followers are working in earnest to purge Egypt from all vestiges of the Mubarak era. “Cairo has become a very unhappy city recently,” he wrote. “While Libyans and Tunisians formed governments and at least gave off the impression of being optimistic; and while Yemenites received the welcome news that their indecisive president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was on his way out; Egyptians once again took to the square for the sake of democracy. This time, ‘democracy’ has grown a beard.”


Photo: Foreign Policy Magazine......The Second Republic of Tahrir

SHABBATH SHALOM! שַׁבַּת שָׁלוֹם

Shabbat Shalom ! שַׁבַּת שָׁלוֹם

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O LORD my strength and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14

24 karat gold menorah overlooking Temple Mount in Jerusalem....Photo UnitedJerusalem.

♥~♥~Belize L-o-v-e~♥~♥

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your Thanksgiving be filled with family love, and happiness. There is much to be thankful for, every moment of every day!


I am grateful for so many things in my life, but I won't make a long list because it will be embarrassingly long. And you might be here reading until next Thanksgiving day.

First, my personal list. I am grateful for my family, and my awesome, passionate, motivated, and hard-working children. Next, all my crazy-smart, talented, and just incredibly nice friends and the readers of my blog.....Seriously!

Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, for sharing your ideas, for your interest and support.

What's on your gratitude list this year? Whether you're celebrating Thanksgiving in the U. S. or not, just take a minute and think about what's made your life better this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NEW ANGLICAN PRE-SCHOOL IN PLACENCIA VILLAGE

New Placencia Pre-school building
Minister Hulse and and Ms Deborah Domingo, General Manager of Anglican Schools in Belize, cutting the symbolic ribbon

The new pre-school building has enhanced the learning environment of the students


Belmopan, Wednesday, 23th November, 2011:  The new Placencia Anglican  Pre-School was officially inaugurated at 10 a.m. this morning, 23rdth November in Placencia Village in the Stann Creek District.

The project, which will benefit over 40 children, was implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF) and financed by the Caribbean Development through its Basic Needs Trust Fund Sixth (BNTF6) Program at a total cost of $110,000.  BNTF6 is a program that promotes 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.

The project consisted of the construction of a one-classroom Ferro-concrete building with zinc roof, reinforced concrete floor, reinforced masonry block walls, aluminum louvre windows, solid timber panel doors with a total floor area of 840 sq ft.  The building is equipped with two bathrooms and a kitchenette.

Placencia is a tourism village in the Stann Creek District located about 22 miles off the Southern Highway  at an intersection approximately 25 miles going south.  Its population is approximately 1,500 residents. Major economic activities in the village include fishing, diving, tour guiding, sport fishing and boat charters among many others.  There are a large number of restaurants and resorts in the village.

The Placencia Anglican Pre-school began operating in the village’s community centre in 2009 with some 25 children between the ages of three and five years old.  However, the  community centre lacked adequate space, which was shared on a monthly basis for animal clinics, various village meetings and other events.  The ceiling leaked when it rained and there was no child friendly outdoor play area.  The new pre-school building, therefore, will enhance the children’s educational environment and prepare them for primary school education.  Studies show that early childhood education is key to improved performance in primary and subsequent schooling.
Hon Melvin Hulse delivering the keynote address
Anglican Bishop Rev Philip Wright delivered some remarks and blessed the new pre-school building
The keynote speaker during the inauguration of the school was the Hon. Melvin Hulse, Minister of Transportation and NEMO and Area Representative for Stann Creek West.  Other speakers will include the Anglican Bishop of Belize, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Youth, the Social Investment Fund and the Placencia Pre-School Management.

Press Release No. 32  – 2011. For further information please contact Mr Mike Hernandez Jr. (Sr. J.P.), Director of Public Relations of the Social Investment Fund at Tel: 822-0239/0508 or via email at mike.hernandez@sifbelize.org or Cell No. 634-4002.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

BOOK LAUNCH: GARIFUNA CONTINUITY IN LAND: BARRANCO SETTLEMENT AND LAND USE 1862 to 2000


Barranco Village, Toledo District

The Community Centre in Barranco was the venue Friday afternoon for the launch of the book Garifuna Continuity in Land: Barranco Settlement and Land Use 1862 to 2000 written by Joseph Palacio, Carlson Tuttle, and Judith Lumb and published by Producciones de la Hamaca based in Caye Caulker.

The three authors explained the significance of the book to all Baranguna and to the literature on rural land tenure for social scientists. Their ten-year study of the southern coastal Garifuna village of Barranco has been called “a very close and penetrating study of land tenure” (Assad Shoman), “a new manner of writing history” (Odile Hoffmann), and “a book based on deep knowledge of everyday life in Barranco and an incredible recollection of archival documents” (Elisabeth Cunin).

This investigation begins with genealogy information that has been collected over the past thirty years.  Land records covering the years 1892 to 2000 were collected and oral information was obtained from interviews and village meetings.  The authors have spent the past ten years analyzing all this information to tell the story of the development of Barranco from the perspective of the land.

The launching of this book in connection with the Garifuna Settlement Day holiday in Belize brings a new dimension to the 19th of November celebrations and initiates a series of events in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Barranco.

Copies were sold at the Barranco launch and continue to be available from Carlson Tuttle in Barranco. The Belize City launch will be on Tuesday, November 22nd launch at the Image Factory where the book will be available. Baranguna and others in the Diaspora can order it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and BarnesandNoble.com. For information on wholesale opportunities, email producciones.hamaca@gmail.com.

18 November 2011 Press Release



Thursday, November 17, 2011

NEW BUILDING FOR STANN CREEK ECUMENICAL JUNIOR COLLEGE IN DANGRIGA

Cutting the symbolic ribbon at Stann Creek Ecumenical Jr College inauguration

Belmopan, Wednesday, 16th November, 2011:  The Social Investment Fund, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Youth, is pleased to announce the official inauguration of the new Stann Creek Junior College classroom building which will be held at 1 pm today at the project site in Dangriga.

The project was implemented by the Social Investment Fund and financed by the Government of Belize through its Commonwealth Debt Initiative (CDI) at a total cost of $382,263.00.

The project consisted of the construction of a one storey reinforced concrete school building with concrete roof and masonry block walls measuring 97ft  long by 25ft wide, having an area of 2,425 sq ft.  The building consists of three classrooms with both male and female bathrooms and two exterior stairs for future expansion. The building is equipped with hurricane storm guard windows, solid panel doors, and two roller metal structures for moveable partitions between classrooms.  Provisions for the installation of electricity, plumbing and a standard septic tank with soak-away  were also included as part of the project.  SIF also provided some teachers’ desks and chairs, six white boards and three bookshelves.

Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College is a community college established in August of 1986.  It serves the educational requirements of  students of Dangriga and surrounding communities.  The school offers Associate Degree  Programs in Arts, Business, Science, General Studies and  Primary Education.  To improve and increase the number of trained teachers the college offers the necessary education courses for the Associates in Primary Education.  In addition, the college also assists the Ministry of Education by offering a Certificate in Education, which started in July 2009.  These teacher training courses are implemented in conjunction with the Teachers Education Unit of the Ministry of Education. 

Better trained teachers will result in better PSE grades passes for primary students and therefore the new school building is considered imperative to improvement of  the quality of the learning environment at the Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College.

The southern region of Belize has traditionally been considered the most under-resourced part of the country.  According to the most recent Country Population Assessment (CPA) approximately 32% of the population in the Stann Creek District is living in poverty.

The Social Investment Fund is the Government’s main agency for the implementation of projects aimed at reducing poverty in Belize.  Since 2008,  SIF has implemented 20 major projects in the Stann Creek District valued at $6.7 million dollars. Twenty of these projects are in the area of education.

The keynote speaker at the official inauguration of the project will be the Hon.  Patrick Faber, Minister of Education and Youth.  Other speakers will include Hon. Arthur Roches, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Area Representative for Dangriga.  Addresses will also be delivered by officials of the Social Investment Fund and members of the Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College Administration.
Students and Teachers of Stann Creek Ecumenical Jr College

John Kunu Dancers at the inauguration of Stann Creek Ecumenical Jr College initiated activies for National Garifuna Settlement Day

Press Release No. 31  – 2011 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 or Cell No. 634-4002.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MIDDLE EAST WRAP: DISGRACED EX-ISRAELI PRESIDENT SET TO ENTER PRISON FOR RAPE

Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav enters the courtroom at the Supreme court in Jerusalem on Thursday, Nov 10, 2011. He told Yediot Achronot that he is a "wreck", but will not commit suicide 


Weekly round-up of the Hebrew newspapers in Israel; covering the major events happening in Israel and the Middle East. Haaretz-Maariv-Yedioth Ahronoth-Israel Hayom-The Jerusalem Post-Ynet 

Israel’s major newspapers lead their Friday, November 11, 2011 editions with the news that former president Moshe Katsav is finally on his way to serve a seven-year prison term after his last-gasp appeal was rejected yesterday by a panel of three Supreme Court justices. This was an historic event, in which a former president will for the first time ever find himself behind bars after being convicted in a court of law. 

 “The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling: Katsav is a rapist,” read the headline in Haaretz. The front page of Yedioth Ahronoth featured a picture of an ashen Katsav, who appeared in court, with the bold-red lettered headline “To jail” right next to it. Israel Hayom led with “A president in jail.”

Katsav, the veteran politician and former government minister who was regarded as a rags-to-riches success story thanks to his socio-economic background and Iranian origins, will begin serving his jail term on December 7th. He was convicted last year of raping a subordinate during his term as tourism minister in 1998. He was also charged and convicted of sexually abusing and harassing two other women while serving as president.

In their comprehensive, 249-page decision, the judges assailed Katsav for lying under oath regarding the extent and nature of his relationships with the women in question. "The crime of rape damages and destroys a person's soul ... Due to the severity of the crime, the punishment must be clear and precise," the judges ruled. "The defendant committed the crime and like every other person, he must bear the consequences. No man is above the law. The contention that seeing a former president of the country go to jail is too painful to watch is an emotional argument, but it definitely cannot be accepted as an ethical argument," wrote the judges in convicting Katsav.

The failed appeal ends a five-year saga which began after then-president Katsav consulted with then-attorney general Menachem Mazuz over an alleged extortion attempt by a woman who worked for Katsav. The woman went on to allege that Katsav had forced her to have sexual relations, and had threatened her with retribution if she went public with her claims. The sensation prompted other women who had worked for Katsav during his political career to come forward. Their complaints served as the basis for the prosecution’s case, which ultimately resulted in a conviction.

The Katsav story occupies pages upon pages of news, pushing the Iranian nuclear program temporarily off the top of the media agenda. Yedioth reports on page 15 that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would convene a cabinet meeting next week to discuss the International Atomic Energy Agency report, which strongly suggests that Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons.

Usually, the government does not publicly air ministers’ opinions on such sensitive security matters, but Netanyahu saw fit to allow his deputies to discuss the issue and its importance from Israel’s standpoint. According to Yedioth, Netanyahu may also be eager to dispel the perception that he and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have secretly hatched a plan to attack Iran against the advice of the country’s top defense and military officials.

Meanwhile, observers in Israel were taken by surprise after Dennis Ross, the veteran U.S. peace envoy, announced his resignation. Ross, who has served under numerous administrations, said that he was returning to private life after three years as one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s senor advisers. According to Haaretz, Ross’s departure is an indication that the administration does not intend to invest considerable energy in the peace process during the upcoming election season.

The Ross story is featured on the front page of The Jerusalem Post, which aside from the Katsav story also keeps the Iranian issue front and center. The Post gives above-the-fold treatment to UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon’s call for diplomatic action to solve the nuclear standoff with Iran. Ban is apparently alarmed at the prospect of a military strike against the Islamic Republic, a scenario that has not been ruled out by Israeli and American officials.

The Post also quotes a Palestinian Authority official who warns of “violence and anarchy” in the wake of what appears to be Ramallah’s failed bid to win membership for an independent state at the United Nations. The UN Security Council is due to announce today that the Palestinians do not have the requisite nine votes needed to gain acceptance as a full-fledged member in the world body. Some members will abstain, while the U.S. will oppose. Britain and France will abstain, a move which drew a furious response from the Palestinians. “The Americans, British, and French leaders are hypocrites and liars,” a PA official told the Post. “They are not any better than Netanyahu.”

Meanwhile, UNESCO is feeling the pinch of the suspension of US contributions in response to the decision to accept the Palestinian Authority as a member state. According to Yedioth, the UN agency announced that it was temporarily suspending its activities so that it could find alternate sources of funding. The U.S., which provides almost a quarter of the agency’s operating budget, halted cash transfers to the organization after it approved the Palestinians’ request for full-fledged membership.

Israel’s envoy to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, was summoned for censure by the agency’s head of its Middle East branch after a cartoon appeared in Haaretz. In the cartoon, Netanyahu and Barak are seen briefing a group of pilots as they are set to embark on a mission to strike Iran. As part of the briefing, Netanyahu is seen telling the pilots, “On your way back, you will bomb the UNESCO branch in Ramallah.” According to Haaretz, Barkan was told by UNESCO officials that the cartoon is a blatant case of incitement. The shocked envoy replied that Israel maintained cooperation with UNESCO despite its acceptance of Palestine and that freedom of the press in Israel made it impossible for the government to censor or ban cartoons of this nature.

Finally, the Internet sites reported the shooting of a 55-year-old Israeli who was driving to Hebron with his family in the early morning hours. In a case of mistaken identity, IDF soldiers manning a checkpoint near the West Bank city opened fire on a vehicle that was earlier reported to have been driving in a suspicious manner. The army received a report from soldiers on the ground that a vehicle was driving suspiciously in the southern Hebron hills. In response, the IDF set up a makeshift checkpoint, which was in all likelihood not noticed by the driver as he approached. The soldiers, apparently fearful that the car was driven by a Palestinian intent on running them over, opened fire after the driver failed to heed their signals to stop. Only after the incident did it become apparent that the car was being driven by an Israeli, Dan Mertzbach, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Otniel. Another passenger in the car was moderately injured, and a third passenger was lightly hurt. An IDF soldier was also hurt after a Palestinian vehicle struck him during the incident.

NEW GULISI PRIMARY SCHOOL IN DANGRIGA, BELIZE


Gulisi  Primary School
Some of the 140 children benefiting from the new school

The new Gulisi Community Primary School was officially inaugurated today, Wednesday, November 16th  at the school compound near the Garifuna Monument site in Dangriga Town.

The project, which will benefit over 140 students, was implemented by the Social Investment Fund and was financed by the Government of Belize at a total cost of $371,000.00 through the Commonwealth Debt Initiative (CDI). 

The new school is comprised of a one storey reinforced-concrete building measuring 121 feet long by 30 ft wide with a 6 ft verandah.  The building includes four classrooms (24 ft by 25 ft ) with two movable partitions and a male and female bathroom block.  The building was constructed to accommodate a future second storey. Solid timber doors and aluminum storm guard windows were installed.  The community of Dangriga provided arm-chairs for the children while SIF also provided furniture in the form of teachers’ desks and chairs, book shelves, cup boards and black boards.  The new school will serve as a shelter in the event of an emergency.

The Gulisi Community Primary School, which is managed by a Board of Directors in collaboration with the National Garifuna Council, came about as a result of the overcrowding of other elementary schools and the distance of the growing and expansion of residential areas and population growth in Dangriga Town.  The primary school is located some 1 1/2 miles  north of Dangriga Town at the Garifuna Monument Site and Museum. However, shortly after being established the Gulisi Primary School outgrew its space rapidly due to swift growth in student population.

The Gulisi Community Primary School is very unique among other schools in Belize and the Caribbean in that it links the knowledge of the ancestors with the curriculum of the Ministry of Education through an Intercultural Trilingual Education programme – English, Spanish and Garifuna. In other words, Gulisi Community Primary School enables the child to be rooted in the community while preparing him or her to take his/her place as a citizen of the world.  In addition, the school has also played an active role in the promotion and preservation of the Garifuna culture.

Established in April 2007, the school has students up to standard 3 but classroom space was needed for the upcoming standard 4, and in the near future for standards 5 and 6. Due to the overcrowded situation, the upcoming standard 4 students had to be accommodated in the Museum.  The Gulisi Community Primary School also operates a pre-school, which is housed in a rented building adjacent to the main school building.

The keynote speaker at the official inauguration of the project was the Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education and Youth.  Other speakers were the Hon. Arthur Roches, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Area Representative for Dangriga.  Addresses were also delivered by officials of the Social Investment Fund and members of the Gulisi School Management and P.T.A.
Minister Faber (2nd from R) cutting the symbolic ribbon at the official inauguration of Gulisi Community Primary School

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

MENTAL HEALTH DAY CARE AND RESOURCE CENTER IN BELIZE CITY

Official Launching of Mental Health Center

Belmopan, Monday 14th November, 2011:  The Social Investment Fund, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Belize Mental Health Association, is pleased to announce the official launching of the  Mental Health Day Care/ Resource Centre, which too place on November 14th at 10 am at the project site at the corner of Tibruce and Vernon Streets in Belize City.

The project will be implemented by the Social Investment Fund and financed through a grant of $568,000 from the Caribbean Development Bank under its Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) 6th Program. BNTF6 is a program that promotes 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.

The project proposes to construct a  Ferro-concrete building  80ft. by 48 ft. or  3,911 sq ft in area. A reinforced concrete roof,  wind resistant aluminum windows and solid timber doors will be installed. The floor will be tiled and basic furniture and a chain-link fence to enclose the premises for protection will be provided.  Provisions for the installation of electrical and plumbing systems in accordance with the regulations of the respective authorities will be included in the project.

The centre will facilitate social support and training for income generation of the homeless and people living with mental health problems in Belize City. The facility will not be a residential centre but it will provide a daily meal, medical referral and recreation for its beneficiaries.  The centre will have capacity to benefit 150 clients on a regular basis and will be governed by rules and regulations and no loitering and nuisance in the neighborhood will be allowed.

The facility will provide respite from the street for a segment of the homeless population.  It will also provide a means of social support and could play a role in building the self-esteem of non-institutional patients with mental and substance abuse disorders.  Through the intervention it is hoped that some of the beneficiaries may become paid employees involved in the functioning of the day care centre.

The Mental Health Association  is a registered non-government association dedicated to raising awareness about issues related to mental health wellbeing, improving mental health services, and advocating on behalf of those with mental health issues and their families.  It was incorporated in 2000 and serves as advisor to the Ministry of Health on issues relating to mental health.  In addition, it serves as an advocate for patients with mental illness and their families and supports the Ministry of Health’s Mental Health Program in its activities.

Speakers at the launching of the project included Mayor Zenaida Moya, members of the Mental Health Association and representatives of the Social Investment Fund.
Press Release No. 29 - 2011

 For further information please contact Mr Mike Hernandez Jr. J.P., Director of Public Relations of the Social Investment Fund at Tel: 822-0239 or via email at mike.hernandez@sifbelize.org or cell no. 634-4002.

  

Monday, November 14, 2011

A FORMER PLACE AND TIME

(L) A young Hon. George Cadle Price visiting the country side; one of a kind.

This is a picture of my grand-uncle Elias Crawford (3rd from the left) with the Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price in Back Landing Village sometime in the late 1960’s. Back Landing was a village in the Orange Walk District inhabited mostly by the Crawford and Rhaburn families. In the late 1960’s most of the people abandoned the village for Carmelita Village near by, and Esparanza Village in the Cayo District.

My grand uncle died when I was about 8 years old and I remember walking from Crooked Tree Village via the New River Pine Ridge with my parents and other relatives to attend the funeral. When we arrived he was already dressed and was laid out on his bed waiting for the coffin to be finished. My dad took me to the room to see him and being a little child, I got to the room door and seeing from his waist down, I became very scared and bolted for outside, crying. All I could remember was seeing his feet in white socks. 

A few weeks ago I received this picture from one of the Crawford’s in Esparanza Village, Belize and I must say, that this is the first time I’m seeing the face of Uncle Elias Crawford. And looking at it, I can see a strong resemblance to my father, Winston Crawford.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

UPDATE ON THE CANCER DIAGNOSIS OF MRS. KIM SIMPLIS BARROW

PM Barrow and Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow

Press Release - Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow thanks the very many individuals and organizations countrywide that have been expressing their solidarity and praying for her in light of her breast cancer diagnosis. Since Monday, she has been undergoing tests and seeing doctors at Baptist Hospital of Miami. The tests and doctors have confirmed that she is suffering from stage 3 breast cancer.

There are two tumors in her left breast, and the cancer has spread to lymph nodes under her left armpit and lymph nodes next to the sternum on the left side. The cancer has not spread to other organs or parts of the body.

The treatment prescribed in the circumstances is for Mrs. Barrow to undergo preoperative chemotherapy, then a mastectomy. The chemotherapy will be done in six sessions three weeks apart, after which the breast removal surgery will take place. The first chemotherapy session is scheduled for Tuesday of next week, to be followed by a few days medical observation. Mrs. Barrow then hopes to come home on Saturday, November 19 before returning to Miami in early December for the second chemotherapy session.

Again, she offers heartfelt gratitude to Belizeans for their outpouring of support.

November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

STORIES FROM A CHILDHOOD IN PUNTA GORDA, BELIZE


Belizean write and author Elroy Johnson launched his second book, A BAAN DE II. Two years ago, Elroy started writing short stories about his life experiences in his home town of Punta Gorda, Belize, with A BAAN DE, translated as “I was born there.” His recent book A BAAN DE II is a continuation of its predecessor, with another layer of socio-historical perspective added to unearth the past. He writes, somewhat nostalgically, about life "bak enna dem days" (in those days) in Punta Gorda, entertaining and delighting those who are acquainted with its history. Both books are framed as a collection of short narratives to serve as tangible reminders of a time in Punta Gorda, affectionately known as PG, when life was simple, serene, unhurried, yet richly rewarding. Whether it was going to the plantation to fetch firewood for the home fires, attending Sunday Mass in his Sunday best, or just playing or hunting for maclallah (lizards) in the neighborhood with his friends, his specific observations were mere glimpses of those rare occasions when life in PG was simple but valuable to his growth and development.

Elroy Johnson was born in Punta Gorda, where he spent most of his childhood in the neighborhood NiHi-Hollywood, then just called NiHi. He attended Saint Peter Claver Primary School. At an early age, he was an outstanding student, passing his primary school leaving examination, college entrance, and government scholarship from Std. V. He went on to attend Claver College, where he continued as an outstanding student. He was well-liked, admired, and respected throughout his college years.

Elroy left PG in the early 1970s to live in Belize City. He quickly joined the Public Service, and after a number of years, he migrated to the United States. There he continued his studies at California State University in Fullerton, where he earned dual Master's degrees in Wastewater Engineering and Environmental Science. Elroy currently works for the City of Los Angeles as a civil engineer. He loves to read and write and dabbles with poetry in his free time.

Johnson frequents his native town PG and is actively involved with community projects and campaign efforts to motivate the youths in NiHi-Hollywood so that they can achieve their goals. He has offered a number of scholarships and educational help to deserving students in the community. Elroy plans to return home to serve his community.

A BAAN DE II can be purchased by contacting the author. He can be reached at elroywjohnson@aol.comThe price of the book is $18.00, which includes postage (continental US). Check or money order will do, and can be mailed directly to him. So, write to him! He'll respond back right away with his mailing address.

Monday, November 7, 2011

MRS KIM SIMPLIS BARROW DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER

Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow
With one in eight women likely to get breast cancer at one time or another in their lives, it’s a topic that makes an awful lot of women extremely nervous.

Today Belizeans heard the news that Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, the wife of the Prime Minister of Belize has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and is seeking urgent medical attention in Miami, Florida USA.

Being diagnosed with cancer is very serious; it is something you shouldn’t take lightly. Leading up to the diagnoses you get the usual array of tests: bone scans, CT, blood tests, etc., which can determine the stage of the cancer and level of treatment.  Approximately fourteen years ago a family member was diagnosed and treated successfully for stage 3 breast cancer with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a treatment which is very beneficial, but has some serious side effects. Treatment with chemo can wipe out all your cells; the good and the bad, including fertility, but that is the price we pay when the alternative is giving cancer the benefit of the doubt. 

The fact that most people don’t know, is that the Belize Cancer Center is capable of administering chemotherapy to Belize cancer patients. However, they lack the funds to be able to properly treat the cancer patients in our country. Cancer affects us all whether it is Mrs. Barrow or the average Belizeans. We wish Mrs. Barrow a speedy recovery and prayers go out to Prime Minister Barrow and the family. Please keep in mind that the Belize Cancer Center, more that ever needs our donations and support.

Only last week Dellone Pascascio at the Belize Cancer Center was seeking funds to help with cancer patients. To donate to the Belize Cancer Center in the US, tax deductable donations can be made to: The Belize Women's Wellness Foundation 1127 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1112, Los Angeles, Ca. 90017 

In Belize: The Belize Cancer Center Dangriga, Nurse Obi
Ph. 011-501-522-3951 #11 Pine Street, Dangriga, Belize, Central America

BELIZEAN SPOTLIGHT OF THE MONTH- NOVEMBER 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.




In November we celebrate the arrival of the Garinagu to the shores of the Americas. In particular, November 19th is a holiday to commemorate the arrival of Garinagu to Belize.


It gives me great pleasure to "Spotlight" a Garifuna who has contributed to the development of Belize. We celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day by "Spotlighting" I. Myrtle Palacio. 

I. Myrtle Palacio
This is the profile of a strong pioneering woman. She is intelligent, dynamic, independent and out spoken. She is of Garifuna and Creole descent and is proud of her heritage. She possesses enormous self-confidence, as no mountain is too high for her to conquer. Her love of country has steered her into politics and later a public servant; and her love of family has thrown her into the public eye as an advocate for women and children. She is a mother, grandmother and activist; she is Mrs. I. Myrtle Palacio.

Born in Dangriga in 1948, Myrtle is the daughter of Cornelius Cacho and the late Gwendolyn Hortense Trapp. Her paternal great-grandmother Balvina “Dabi” Velasquez Cacho and grandaunt, Victoria “Baby” Cacho Herrera nurtured her in her formative years. Both women were instrumental in her upbringing, and had a profound impact on the person she is today. A young Myrtle was socialized in a traditional Garifuna environment. Both her great-grandmother and grandaunt were very much involved with various aspects of community development. For Myrtle, this was her first experience with leadership. Her great-grandmother was her role model; she instilled in a young Myrtle the importance of being socially conscious and self-confident. 

Myrtle attended primary school at the Stann Creek Methodist School in Dangriga. She later went on to attend Wesley College in Belize City, and on completion attended the teachers training program at Belize Teacher’s College.  She earned a Trained Teacher’s Diploma from that institution. Her strong desire for learning led her to the United States on two separate occasions to further pursue her education.

In 1981, she attended UC Berkeley and Armstrong University in Berkeley, California.  She earned from the latter institution a Bachelor of Science Degree and graduated with cum laude honors in Accounting and Business Management. She continued her education at the University of New Orleans, College of Urban Planning where she graduated in 1995, with a Masters of Science in Urban Studies with a concentration in Community Economic Development and Social/Policy Planning.  Her Masters thesis is entitled “Redefining Ethnicity: The Experience of the Garifuna and Creole in Post-independent Belize.” Attaining a university education in the United States was a struggle for her. Myrtle and her nuclear family forfeited many luxuries, and settled for the bare essentials. It was a sacrifice she now wears as a badge of honor; as she was determined to be a success, to pay her own way, to gain an education that no one can take away from her.

As an entrepreneur, Mrs. Palacio is considered to be a pioneer in the computer industry in Belize. Her creation of Glessima Research and Services in 1984 was the first such endeavor in Belize.  Glessima utilized the computer for research and offshore data entry, a first in Belize. The organization quickly became a household name when it assisted young women to gain economic self-sufficiency through the attainment of marketable skills.  Glessima Research used skills training and job placement programs to enhance women and others at risk.  Glessima was also the first to start initiating political opinion polls in Belize. Over the years, her organization made donations of computer hardware and software, as well as furniture equipment to several institutions throughout Belize. Through Glessima, Myrtle provided scholarships for female students that she considered “truly needy.”

As an educator, Myrtle has taught at various primary schools. She also lectured tertiary level--Accounting at St. John’s Sixth Form;  Computer Technology and Community Development at the University of the West Indies in Belize; Research Methodology at the School of Nursing; and Computer Technology at the University College of Belize. For her, teaching is a life long dream. She enjoys it, and perceives it as a necessary investment in human resource, for if we equipped our youths with the proper tools, then they would be better prepared to tackle the responsibilities of our global community.

She is a published author, who has conducted several original and relevant researches. Her writings are concentrated in the areas of socio-cultural and socio-political issues. In 1993 she published, “Who and What in Belizean Elections 1954-1993” and “The First Primer on the People called Garifuna.” Both books were critically acclaimed and well accepted. She has written many technical reports, and has made presentations at home and abroad. From 1998-2000 she wrote a weekly column in the Amandala, where she discussed social issues ranging from poverty to women’s rights.
In June, 2011, Myrtle released two new books, “Adügürahani: A Walk Through Garifuna Spiritualism” and “Electoral Politics in Belize: The Naked Truth.”  The book on Garifuna spiritualism, documents the traditional knowledge of the Dügǘ ceremony, describing in detail all its nine rituals, which is a first in the literature on the Garinagu. The book on electoral politics offers statistical information on election outcomes for both parliamentary and municipal elections giving an overview of the system of governance in Belize and analyses voter behavior based on the recorded voter turnout.
Myrtle Palacio has served in the Belize public service for almost ten years.  In May of 1999, she was the first woman to be appointed to the post of Chief Elections Officer. The office plays a crucial role in Belize’s electoral process. As Chief Elections Officer, she was responsible for electoral administration, which includes voter registration and the organization of elections. During her tenure, she introduced the first government website, voter education and computerized the electoral database system to bring transparency and efficiency to the work of the Department.  She also organized in 2003, three elections in one day, when Belize conducted Municipal and Parliamentary elections on the same day, a first for the CARICOM region. Myrtle served as the Director in the Office of Governance from 2005 to 2008, a new government agency that was mandated to provide leadership and oversight to public sector management.  Several initiatives for change were embarked upon, including administration, capacity building efforts, building awareness to governance and e-government policies and strategies.


She has participated in several international electoral observer missions with The Commonwealth and CARICOM Observer Teams.  She has observed parliamentary elections in Trinidad and Tobago three times in 2001, 2002 and 2007; also in Guyana, Curacao, and Sierra Leone.  In Antigua and Barbuda she led a team of experts to observe the voter registration process for The Commonwealth.  In February of 2002, she was sworn in as one of a five member Commission of Enquiry into the work of the Elections and Boundaries Commission of Trinidad and Tobago. That exercise took her away from home for short periods of time.

Mrs. Palacio is considered to be a community advocate. She firmly believes in volunteering and giving back to make one’s community a better place to live. She has consistently given of herself, her time, her skills, and her energies.  In 1986 she contributed as one of the founding members of the Child Abuse and Neglect Council. In 1987, she also contributed as a founding member for the Belize Nutrition Community Network.  From 1992-1993 she was a Board Member with the National Organization for the Prevention of Child Abuse. She was Assistant Chair to the Board of the Belize Technical College from May of 1991 – June 1993. Mrs. Palacio served as the National Coordinator for the National Garifuna Council from 1991 – 1993.  From 1998 to June 2001, she was the Chairperson to the National Committee on Families and Children.

Over the years, she has received many honors. Some that have stood out include an acknowledgement in March of 1999 when she was recognized by the Ministry of Education for her contribution to cultural awareness. The National Library Service honored her in May of the same year for her “Outstanding Contribution to Belizean Society.” Later in June of that year, she was one of four persons honored on the Queen’s birthday when she was appointed to be an Ordinary Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE); it was given for her dedication to community service; and in June of 2001, she was honored by Belizean Anglican Society in New York.  She was bestowed with another Queen’s birthday honor in 2006, an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for public service. Presently, in her down time she shares at photo exhibitions, loves playing the steel pan and is presently a member of the All Stars Steel Band.  She enjoys digital imaging and website design, which she had to return to the classroom to learn in 2009 and 2010.  These are tools she utilizes for conducting research and sharing the findings. 

I. Myrtle Palacio is a dedicated and passionate person, who strongly believes in continuing education, that one must constantly re-tool with knowledge and skills.  Her commitment to research and sharing information with the community is unwavering, and is her way of giving back. I. Myrtle Palacio is an inspiration and a role model! 


Excerpted from LABEN NEWS -By Kim Hernandez