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Nov 22, 2016

Caribbean Judicial Officers Unite to Walk for Haiti

Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti over a month ago and the island is trying to rebuild. While hundreds of lives were lost, thousands were left homeless after the hurricane. The Caribbean region has rallied around Haiti and the relief has been going their way for the past couple weeks, but the damage and destruction were significant – in the millions of dollars – and the people of Haiti are still in need. One regional organization that is helping is the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers which is made of judges, judicial officers, court administrators and the likes. In Trinidad and Tobago, they are doing a walk on December third to raise much needed funds and they made a call on their Belizean counterparts to do the same. The Bar Association and the Supreme Court launched the walk today. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was there and has this report.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Bar Association of Belize in collaboration with the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers launched “Walk for Haiti” in Belize City. It is an initiative aimed at providing assistance to the people of Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew in early October. Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin launched the initiative today.


Kenneth Benjamin

Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice

“Now, on October the fourth, we were following the news  of Hurricane Matthew as it passed over the tip of southern Haiti. As the news came in, we got to learn that a bridge had been washed away, we learnt that buildings had been destroyed, crops had been destroyed and then we learnt that the death toll was been rising from three hundred and going higher daily. We now know that there is need for medical care, improvement for housing and also to the infrastructure which has been very badly damaged.  Here we are today seeking to raise funds for the hurricane Matthew devastation that took place in October of this year. The Supreme Court jumped at the opportunity when CAJO called and asked if we wanted to join with them as Trinidad was having their walk on December thirtd.  So, I invite you all to register, or maybe I should change that. I should say to you, fellow walkers, let’s all walk on December the third at six am in the morning.  That would show unity to our brothers and sisters in Haiti. It is now my pleasure and privilege to launch this walk for Haiti, this morning.”


The Walk for Haiti is set for December third. President of the Bar Association Priscilla Banner says that the walk will do more than just raise funds for Haiti.


Priscilla Banner

Priscilla Banner, President, Bar Association of Belize

“Essentially, what they are trying to do is to raise funds to support these causes in Trinidad and Tobago. There are a lot of needs in terms of medical assistance needed, supplies, infrastructure; I mean the list goes on and on. So, CAJO is supporting that fundraising initiative and the funds will be channeled through ‘Is There Not A Cause’ an organization through Trinidad and Tobago which will be distributing the funds.”


Andrea Polanco

“Miss Banner, is there a target you guys would like to meet?”


Priscilla Banner

“Quite honestly, if we can get a million dollars, I would be happy with it. Of course, that is not realistic. We want to give as much support as possible. I think it is important not just for fundraising itself, I think it is important that people come out. As Mr. Justice Saunders said in the presentation that you saw, this has a tripartite purpose; some of them latent and some of them blatant; latent is that it is good for exercise and also good for the camaraderie of the Bar Association, the judiciary and members of the public. It is good to build that sort of good will with members of the public whom we serve and whom we work with everyday but importantly, the blatant purpose is to raise funds for people who are in needed. I think it taps into our social conscience and it makes us better people to assist in this way.”


The Walk for Haiti has the support of the Belize City Council and the Belize Police Department. The Salvation Army is also assisting with the fundraising efforts, and for Regional Commander Major Joliker Leandre this one is near and dear to him.


Joliker Leandre

Major Joliker Leandre, Commander, Salvation Army

“It is a good feeling. It’s a good feeling, being a Haitian myself, you know. Most of the time we are compelled to focus on the country or the community where we are, so the people where we serve becomes our people. At times we tend to forget about our own people, really.  But, it is a joy to know that God has a way of working things out when we are in one corner serving other people; God call other people to serve our people. So, we are in a sense one people, truly. Whether we are Haitian or Belizeans, we are one. And we are grateful for the initiative that has been taken so far and we wish it every success. We are going to support it to the best of our ability.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


As you heard, the walk will be on December third. It starts at six a.m. in front of the Supreme Court.

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