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Oct 28, 2005

Contestants excited about Miss Garifuna

Story PictureNovember is right around the corner and Garifuna Settlement Day activities are about to begin… starting with a pageant this weekend. As in years past, the focus is not on appearances or fashion, but on a deeper understanding of the culture and appreciation for all things Garinagu.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
These are the five ladies who will be competing in this year?s Miss Garifuna Belize City Pageant. Over the past three weeks the contestants have been getting ready for their appearance on stage.

The pageant not only marks the opening of the Garifuna Settlement Day celebrations, but it is described as one of the best awareness events; generating interest in the people, culture and language. The young women themselves benefit in more ways than one.

Sebastian Cayetano President, N.G.C., Belize City
?To keep the culture alive, to keep the language alive, the music, the dances, and that feeling of being Garifuna and Garifuna pride. It?s to build self-esteem in our girls and one thing we notice, because of the intensive practice that they have with their trainers, we find that our girls are able to take care of themselves even after the contest and like they bloom.?

Karima Martinez, Contestant
?I want them to come out and feel proud of the Garifuna people because we will do all kind of dances, the Garifuna dances. So I encourage everyone to come out so that they can see how we do the Garifuna dances.?

Seventeen year old Hyrra Alvarez believes her culture is still lost among the younger population because they are probably not being encouraged, despite the numerous activities in the month of November.

Hyrra Alvarez, Contestant
?Some of the parents nowadays, they are not contributing the language and the culture to their children and so therefore their minds tend to stray into other things instead of their language and culture.?

The pageant dates back to 1976. Contestants are not only from Belize, but also neighbouring countries. Sody Bernadez, a student of Sadie Vernon High school, is from Honduras. The pageant organisers also invite past contestants to try again.

Franka Polonio, Contestant
?I decided last year when I went up for Miss Garifuna, that was last year, I came in third and I wanted to try again this year. So it was last year I decided to go up for Miss Garifuna.?

Outgoing Miss Garifuna Belize City knows exactly how the contestants feel on the big night.

Mindy Reid, Outgoing Miss Garifuna, Belize City
?Well I remember being frustrated because I thought that I couldn?t get anything right.?

Jacqueline Woods
?It?s not easy??

Mindy Reid
It?s not easy, it?s very hard, but once you put enough effort into it, then I guess it would easy for you.?

As the youngest contestant, sixteen year old Vashtie Roches urges everyone to come out and give their support.

Vashtie Roches, Contestant
?Of course, it?s going to be lots of excitement seeing five girls really perform and promote their culture. I hope you?ll will come out and enjoy and support us.?

The Miss Garifuna Belize City Pageant starts at eight on Saturday night at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall. Tickets are available at Ferguson’s Photo studios, Venus Photo Lab, or at the door. Admission is ten dollars for adults and five dollars for children.

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