YWCA Celebrates 59 Years in Belize
The YWCA is celebrating a milestone in Belize- its fifty-ninth anniversary. Fulfilling a threefold mission since it started, the Belize Chapter of the Y offers instructional and training programmes that promote education, income generation for women and girls, physical development and other creative activities for healthy living. The YWCA has long been known to offer significant public service to the very young and the elderly through spiritual growth, living and leadership. Andrea Polanco was at the YWCA today and has this report.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
The Young Women’s Christian Association was established fifty nine years ago today in Belize. Since its inception, the services offered have been expanded and the program revamped to be more inclusive. With a mandate to empower women and youth, the association has impacted the lives of thousands of Belizeans through its social programs in almost six decades.
Sonia Linares, General Secretary, YWCA
“We focus on empowering our young women because earlier on we found out that many of them are not in school, of course it is not the case at this time. But there were also teenage pregnancy on the rise. And we felt that the YWCA program can help. We try to give them life skills to help them generate some form of income. We also provide classes for women because we found out that there are many women out there who wanted to learn a skill and they can use that skill to generate an income for themselves and also to improve their family life. We were able to have classes in cake decorating, sewing, and food preservation. And this was not enough for the Y.”
So, the YWCA decided to do more. With funding, they have since extended their services to communities outside of Belize City.
“We are able to help these women to not only let them feel good about themselves, but also in starting a business. We had three years of working with them in the different communities to give them that sense of belonging and feeling good about themselves, because they are able to generate an income and help themselves and their communities. We have started what we call the CASA project, creating a safe place agenda. This project is for the empowerment of youth and we are working in both Belmopan and Belize City where we give children the opportunity to improve in their school work, as well as sporting activity and life skills.”
Although the Y has been leading the empowerment of women and youth in Belize for almost sixty years, Linarez says that there are still areas they need to develop.
“We want to strengthen the youth work that we are doing. We just met yesterday as a group to look at the youth leadership program; to develop more youth leadership in the organization. Of course, we have high success rate of having young people making a difference in Belize. We also are looking at entrepreneurship. Yes, we give them the skills, but we want them to use the skills. We want to help them in developing marketing plans and use the skills to really improve their lives. The only way we can do that is by giving them a job and help them to get a job or start their own business and market what they do.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.
The YWCA’s celebration of its anniversary will continue with activities during the week, including a tea party in Belmopan, a makeover for the female prisoners, a motorcade and an open house on Saturday.