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Aug 25, 2017

Kids taught cultural skills at House of Culture summer program

The Museum of Belize and Houses of Culture concluded an annual summer program for children in Belize City earlier today.  The camp ran for a month and a half and saw participants learning how to weave baskets, among other skills.  A majority of those children are from the Dorothy Menzies Childcare Center.  This morning, reporter Isani Cayetano stopped by for a brief closing ceremony.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Across the country, summer camps for various activities, often a mixture of educational and recreational courses, are winding down, as a new school year is once again upon us.  For the past six weeks, a group of children has been busy learning and applying the fundamentals of gardening and basketry.  Every morning a handful of kids would gather here at the Dorothy Menzies Childcare Center where they would join others who are presently in the protective custody of the Department of Human Services.  The idea is not only to have these children interact with each other, but to learn the traditional skills of horticulture and basket weaving.

 

Alexis Salazar, Director, Museum of Belize

Alexis Salazar

“It’s the conclusion of our six week program of a series of different summer activities that we’ve been doing with children and one of our staff members suggested that we do something with Dorothy Menzies.  We usually donate school backpacks and so on at the end of summer anyway.  So we decided to have the kids who attended the summer workshop come and share some of that knowledge that they have by putting in a garden and then we had somebody who did the ti-tie weaving workshop come and show the kids here how to do it.”

 

That person is Savinus Flores, a skilled artisan whose area of knowledge is weaving baskets and other handicraft using what is known locally as a ti-tie reed.  The idea is to carry on the tradition that he learned while growing up in Dangriga.

 

Savinus Flores

Savinus Flores, Basket Weaver

“It is something that I learned from my dad and he died.  Fortunately, I picked it up and now I don’t want to die and no one else comes from behind and do the same.  It is something that we as, how would I call it, we as parents on a whole should be role models to our children.  This basket weaving da noh something weh common because a lot of people like sih di beauty ah di basket when ih done but di amount a work ih tek fu mek wih get it di way how we want it to be done and di future di eena di children breds.”

 

The summer program was facilitated through the Museum of Belize and Houses of Culture.  According to Alexis Salazar, the director of the organization, teaching these kids about Belize’s intangible cultural legacy was priority number one.

 

Alexis Salazar

“One of the things that we wanted to do through all summer programs at the House of Culture is something that deals with intangible cultural heritage.  As we were talking about before, basketry is being lost in Belize and it’s not being passed on from one generation to the next.  Some of the things that were being built in the past, like the Pataki that we talked about, are not being passed along, so some of that knowledge is being lost and we wanted to do something to preserve that through teaching it to young kids.”

 

And those children, for the most part, are all fast learners.  In that short space of time, many have displayed a propensity for weaving, an inclination that leaves Flores at a loss for words.

 

Savinus Flores

“I’m so blessed and they are so talented because in a short space of time they can show what they do, you know.  The basic part of the basket, the most difficult part is the starting, right.  I do all the preparation and they do all the knitting to complete and it’s so successful.  They do it well.  It just like, mein, it’s so good.  I feel good about it, that I know that one day will take it more serious than I am and go a further step, you know.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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