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Jun 7, 2018

Region One O.C. Hooks Up with Taiwan for School Farming Project

Three schools from the south side of the city will have the opportunity to farm vegetables for their consumption. The Farming for Schools Project was spearheaded by Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett in Belmopan and has spread to the city as a way to keep vulnerable young people occupied and off the streets. The Embassy of Taiwan has made a significant financial contribution to keep the programme going.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Farming in the urban space is an idea that was initially introduced by the Belize Police Department in Belmopan to meaningfully engage at-risk youths in horticulture.  It served as a means of steering them away from crime and violence.  Since his transfer to Belize City as Commander of Eastern Division Region One, Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett has been leading the charge for community policing.  That outreach includes a Farming in Schools Project which sees students from St. Luke, St. Martin’s and St. John Vianney taking on various gardening assignments.

 

Howell Gillett

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett, Commander, Eastern Division Region One

“If we don’t help our young people now, then maybe, just maybe we would be in that very same position five to ten years from now.  So we have to do all we can and you might say it’s only three schools, but the Ministry of Agriculture has undertaken to sponsor a fourth school as a result of the effort that we are doing.”

 

That effort hopes to see dozens of kids from the south side of Belize City becoming involved in growing vegetables which in turn will be used to feed them at their respective schools.

 

Charles Liu

Charles Liu, Taiwanese Ambassador

“I do believe that Commander Howell Gillett, he opened the doors for the schools to learn how to… in farming and these kinds of acts will stop the crimes and also guiding the kids to learn a good lifestyle in the future.  So that is why the embassies impressed with what the commander had been doing, so that is why we would like to extend our support to let more kids learn how to ready themselves then they can focus, they can keep away from crimes and they can definitely go into education and the good kind of education, so that farming would lead them to build a good life in the future.”

 

To that end, the Embassy of Taiwan has donated generously to the initiative via a cheque that was handed over this morning at the Raccoon Street Police Station.

 

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett

“The donation is a total of seven thousand, six hundred dollars and it will reach out to three different schools.  I believe it’s St. John Vianney, St. Martin’s and St. Luke, all on Region One side of Belize City.  Why we are doing this is because we believe that if we help young people from a very early age, and how could you be a productive student if you are not able to have a meal, especially a breakfast in the morning, or lunch?  So what we are doing is to create farming in these schools and then those, whatever is reaped is augmented or helps the feeding programs at the school.  So we want to help young people.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Why a focus on farming for inner city kids, as opposed to any other activity that you would want to invest in to assist in their development?”

 

Charles Liu

“For Taiwan we have been able to cooperate with so many ministries and institutions to try to pass on our knowledge and our technology or our know-how to the local community and institutions.  And for the inner city kids, I think if we can use the school lands as farming lands then they will know how to appreciate, how to cherish what the beautiful Belize has given us.  And in the inner city, if we give some work, if we give some learning to the students, to the kids, then gradually if they start from small then they are going to cherish, appreciate whilst waiting in the future for them.”

 

According to Gillett, the original idea was to work with the Social Security Board.  Unfortunately, that plan did not materialize.  It gave rise, however, to the partnership with the Taiwanese government.

 

Howell Gillett

“First we approached the Belize Social Security Board.  We were in discussion and it never did materialize, so we went to the Taiwanese ambassador and right away he said, “Yes, we’ll try to see how we can fund the project because it’s good and it’s for young people.”  So we are so pleased, this is a great day for Region One side of the city.  Approximately one thousand, five hundred kids will be impacted by this and the teachers are the ones who will determine who gets food from the feeding program, as well as what goes to the feeding program from the Farming in Schools [Program].”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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