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Apr 6, 2018

City Kids Get a Taste of “Village Life” in Maskall

The quiet Easter weekend in Belize City was due as much to police watchfulness as to the fact that most Belizeans left town for cooler climes like the cayes, Placencia, or the interior. But the new police command remains adamant about starting to heal the wounds and scars from generations of warfare on the streets, not to mention distrust from the police. And so twenty-five youths from across the Old Capital took a day trip to Maskall village, to see a different life, different values, different opportunities. It was a clash of cultures, but as News Five’s Aaron Humes reports, the rural farmers and young people have a lot more in common than one may think.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Sure, there are challenges. But if you ask the people of the Nago Bank area of Maskall village, Belize District, there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than tilling the soil. On this last day of Easter vacation, twenty-five Belize City youths’ eyes were opened to the possibilities in one of Belize’s top industries.

 

Maria Magdalena Padilla

Maria Magdalena Padilla, Golden Grain Farm Limited [Translated]

“[I believe that] agriculture is something beautiful; and the country would benefit from it. But apart from that, what [I] would like to tell the kids is that they can plant their own crops; they can harvest and eat of it, and then they can sell, and then they can learn a trade. All of the rest, the ones coming up, can learn from them, so that we don’t have that violence anymore.”

 

Rosa Calderon Garcia

Rosa Calderon Garcia, Cheese Maker [Translated]

“The natural cheese is one of the best; it’s healthier because it takes no chemicals, you saw it only takes salt, it’s good for your body. Everything is a family work, it leads to the family. I worked with [my] family, and the family has to get into it; the kids learn about it and they start to work together with their parents.”

 

Alex Pineda, Chairman, Nago Bank Farmers Cooperative [Translated]

“What [you’re] doing right now is something good and I am happy about it. The kids can see now what is agriculture, because in the City they don’t see this, and they can start it in their own backyard, gardening and planting and getting into a backyard garden.”

 

And that’s the point, according to Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett, officer commanding Eastern Division (South), who says the tour is as much about broadening their horizons as it is an anti-crime measure.

 

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett, Regional Commander, Eastern Division South

“This is to open up the minds of young people, to show them that there is a life other than crime. Because if you’re living especially on the Southside of Belize City, it’s marginalized –when you hear Southside, and I’ve said over and over that I want to change that name and quickly – but it’s marginalization and its poverty, and these kids see, daily on the news, the murders occurring every day, and you don’t want young people to be growing up with that kind of mind. You want them to be positive, you want them to be successful young people who will transform to adults, and teach others to become like them. Because there is a reason you and I are not criminals and it’s something that occurred to us during our younger years. And that is the kind of environment that we want to create for young people – to show them that crime itself is not the only thing or the only way in life; there are other things.”

 

Assisting with today’s tour was the Ministry of Agriculture, represented by the District Agricultural and Extension Officers and their staff, and area representative Edmond Castro.

 

Edmond Castro

Edmond Castro, Area Representative, Belize Rural North

“What you’re seeing here is a number of young kids, students, who would have normally been in the Belize City area without the kind of experience that we experience out here in village life. We also partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, so they visited different farms. I hope they get to see more farms; my brother has a pig farm; I don’t know if they’ve gotten to that. We have cheese making –we make cheese out here; we have vegetable farms out here. We are the number one district as it relates to vegetable farming.”

 

And according to the youngsters themselves, they have picked up a few tricks to take back home this weekend.

 

Aaron Humes

“You like what you did out here today?”

 

Ashley Obispo

Ashley Obispo, 12 Years Old

“Yes, sir.”

 

Reporter

“Why you like it? What was so good about being out here today – it was hot, you were walking around – what was so good about it?”

 

Ashley Obispo

“I feel confident.”

 

Reporter

“Why you feel confident?”

 

Ashley Obispo

“Because I learned how to water plants.”

 

Aaron Humes

“I see here you’re holding a piece of cheese from the cheese-making factory…What did you learn about that today? Hold it up and show us what you learned.”

 

Darrell Ramclam

Darrell Ramclam, 9 Years Old

“I learned about the cheese and how to milk the cow.”

 

Aaron Humes

“And how to mash it and all of that to make it. So is that something you can do when you’re older?”

 

Darrell Ramclam

“Yes, sir.”

 

Aaron Humes

“And what about the rest of the farms – what did you see and learn?”

 

Darrell Ramclam

“I saw watermelon, tomatoes, sweet peppers.”

 

Aaron Humes

“And those are things you think you can grow at home?”

 

Darrell Ramclam

“Yes, sir.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So what will you do when you get back home and tell your family about this?”

 

Darrell Ramclam

“I will tell my family how to start to grow the things I just talked about.”

 

 

Aaron Humes

“What do you think about agriculture now that you’ve seen what the farmers do every day and so? Is it something you think you can do?”

 

Kia Hyde

Kia Hyde, 15 Years Old

“Yes, sir. Right behind your back yard you can do your own lee planting, than fi just go at the market and spend money and buy thing when you could pick your own thing off your land, what you do in your back yard.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So is that something you’ll do when you go home?”

 

Kia Hyde

“Yes, sir.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Another out-of-City tour is scheduled for next Friday, when twenty-five more lucky youth will be traveling to the Belize Zoo. As for where you can get the products seen in this story, try your neighborhood markets in Belize City, Orange Walk, San Pedro and even Cayo. The freshly-made local cheese sells at the market and some supermarkets for four dollars a pound wholesale and five dollars retail.

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