Monday, January 30, 2012

SKILLS TRAINING IN VILLAGES ALONG THE OLD NORTHERN HWY-BELIZE

A group, comprised of 19 women and a man, hailing from four villages along the Old Northern Highway in the Belize District received certificates during a brief ceremony held on Saturday 28th   January in St Ann’s Village after completing a seven-month intensive skills training course in the areas of sewing, fruit processing and business management.
The processed fruits produced by the group are being marketed under the Bloom Products Brand
Course participants display the dresses made during their sewing course

The training, which took place from July 2011 to January 2012, was implemented by the Social Investment Fund and financed by the Government of Belize at a total cost of $30,706.38 through a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank. 

The training also included the  provision of equipment such as sewing machines, an industrial stove, refrigerator, sewing materials and kitchen supplies to the Hidden Beauty Women’s Group of St. Ann’s Village, whose members comprised the majority of the trainees. However, representatives of  Santana, Lucky Strike and Maskall villages also attended the training.

The  project aimed to empower the participants to earn an income in an area where cruise ship tourists visit the nearby archaeological site of Altun Ha on a weekly basis.  The training was held at the St Ann’s Resource Centre, which was refurbished in 2010 to make way for productive activities and serve as a hurricane shelter.

The sewing, business management and fruit processing courses were conducted by Margaret Manzanarez, Dana Rhamdas and Beverly Brown respectively. The trainers are certified and experienced Belizean instructors.

Hon Edmond Castro, Area Representative for Belize Rural North, delivered a special address during the ceremony.  He then joined Mr Daniel Cano, Executive Director of the Social Investment Fund in the presentation of certificates to the participants.  Other speakers at the ceremony included course participants Michelle Aldana, Daisy Flowers and Leslie Pascacio, the only male among the group, who gave their views on the training and stressed that Belizeans can eat healthy using fruits and vegetables from their own backyard.  Mr Glen Buckhalter, Program Organizer for Evangel Credit Union, delivered the keynote address in which he urged graduates to aim high by marketing their products both locally and internationally.  
Hon Edmond Castro enjoys a light moment with Mr Leslie Pascasio, the only male among the group, who received his certificate in fruit processing
Daisy Flowers, course participant and Chair-lady of St Ann's Village, displays the processed products produced during the training              

St. Ann’s Village is a sleepy community located on the Old Northern Highway between the well known communities of Santana and Maskall.  It borders Santana at Mile 33 and Maskall at Mile 38.  There is little documented history of St. Ann’s but locals claim that it has been in existence since the 1920’s when logging and chicle production were at their peak.  During the 1950’s parcels of land were distributed for agricultural purposes and by 1965 a community center was constructed in the Village.

A number of fruits are grown in St Ann’s and surrounding, villages including mangoes, cashew, papayas, pineapple, golden plums and supa, some grown all year round and other seasonally. Hence, there is potential for fruit processing.


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 or via email at mike.hernandez@sifbelize.org or cell: 634-4002


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