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Apr 10, 2018

Survivors of Gun Violence Bare their Souls on How Snap Decisions Can Change their Lives

Young persons left scarred and traumatized by gun violence gathered today in the city as police look for new opportunities to keep them away from crime.  They are students from a school in the Saint Martin de Porres area which has been one of the city’s hotspots. Today, survivors of gun violence addressed them on how a bad decision has changed the course of their lives and not for the better. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

This afternoon at the Swift Hall in south side Belize City, ninety students from standard four, five and six at Saint Martin De Porres Primary School heard the real life stories of victims of gun violence. A few of them were in wheelchairs, others using crotches, having becoming persons living with disabilities. For them, it’s the harsh reality of a lesson learnt as a consequence of the path they individually chose in life.

Thirty-one-year-old Hattieville resident, Shaphan Domingo was shot on the twenty-seventh of January 2007 at the age of twenty during an ongoing dispute with a former schoolmate. He’s lost both his legs.

 

Shaphan Domingo

Shaphan Domingo, Victim of Gun Violence

“After I left high school I had to run from a lot of people, always di run from cats weh mi di try chase me and different things. And at one point, we mi di come from the station from get some information and he halla something at me and dah like…ih just. I beat up the man and the man take it the other way and the man gone fi ih gun and come back to the yard and just finish yeah. The first shot actually miss my head and after that the man just start to squeeze up the trigger and like four different shots I get—one of them touch the spine and cause the paralysis. The situation weh fi we society end up now because things weh morally rejected become socially accepted because a certain…you know.”

 

Duane Moody

“So do you feel that your story could possible change one of their minds or take them away from leading a life that could cause them to end up dead or even behind bars?”

 

Shaphan Domingo

“Yes mien cause I feel like at this stage, dah the stage weh yo really di mature dehn kinda way. I feel that dah di age weh yo shoulda get certain tests like this. See the condition weh people ina my situation ina—see the everyday life ah weh we go through—and see if you rather school or the street.”

 

Principal Anne Palacio says teachers on an everyday basis come face to face with these students, who have been traumatized by violence in their neighborhoods and inside their homes. They have been on a mission to change the psyche in how children deal with issues. Palacio says that at the catholic institution, the students are taught about self-esteem, self-confidence and to be leaders, while teaching them how to think and not what to think.

 

Anne Palacio

Anne Palacio, Principal, St. Martin De Porres Primary School

“When they are with us, they are good, but it’s when they are outside. So we try to give them the tools that they need whenever they’re faced with these types of crisis that they’ll make the right decisions. Whether they have directly or indirectly, but they have faced violence. They have faced a lot of horror in their lives. And so as the educational system, we try to do our best to ensure, to let them know, that is not the norm. Not because of what you see that means you should follow. So it is a catholic school system and we try to let them understand about ethics, about love, about morals, about standards and that not because they live in a neighborhood where they see violence that means that they should become violent.  We teach them that it is not where you at, but where you want to go.”

 

According to Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett, there are varying factors why crimes are being perpetrated. The school was chosen because an assessment shows that majority of the recent violent and traumatic incidents occurred in areas that encompass the children from this particular school.

 

Howell Gillett

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

“It is our belief if we enlist their support to go out in the neighborhoods and let them share their experiences as to how and why certain things occurred in their past, I believe young people could learn from it. So we have enlisted their support to be here at this school to tell the young people what occurred and ways not to get into a life of crime.  We have to win back the city, but for us to win it we have to have a whole of the society approach; it cannot be just the police. When things get out of hand, it is easy to lay blame on any one organization, but I believe there are many other stakeholders that could get involved.”

 

Gillett says that the initiative, made possible through partnership between the Police Department and One Struggle, will see house to house visits as a broader form of community policing. One Struggle is a non-profit organization of about eighty plus persons, including former City Councilor Phillip Willoughby, who are on a mission to assist with the perennial issue of urban gun violence.

 

Philip Willoughby

Philip Willoughby, Spokesperson, One Struggle

“Yo can’t go dah the park, yo can’t go dah the dance, yo can’t go dah Princess, yo can’t go dah the field go kick ball, yo can’t go go play basketball, yo can’t go dah yo girlfriend house; drama fi get dah di store, drama fi get dah the medical facilities. Boss this dah no way fi we di live ina this small lee space.  The mothers who are a part of One Struggle wants to reach out to other mothers who have been affected to provide that level of support to those affected as well as to speak to the young men from across the city who are caught up in this gang situation.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “Survivors of Gun Violence Bare their Souls on How Snap Decisions Can Change their Lives”

  1. MARILYN STAINE says:

    I am really proud of Shaphan Domingo. He could have given up in life but he chose to live on. I really hope that young men would learn to stop the beefing as we may say and get over problems. Life is too short for all this.

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