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Sep 26, 2012

Peace Corps 50 years in Belize

Two years after then-Senator John F. Kennedy tasked students at a U.S University to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and giving service in developing countries, and a year after it was established in the U.S, members of the Peace Corps were deployed to Belize in 1962. While things have changed considerably since then, the Peace Corps remains committed to promoting peace and friendship by training men and women and exchanging culture and knowledge.  For fifty years, the Peace Corps have been in Belize on two-year service programs assisting in a number of projects including capacity building. This morning, the US Embassy hosted the fiftieth anniversary celebration in Belmopan and News Five’s Andrea Polanco was there.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Unites States Peace Corps is celebrating fifty years in Belize. Since 1962, almost two thousand Peace Corp volunteers have served in the country to promote development in areas of Youth, Health and Education.


Vinai Thummalapally

H.E. Vinai Thummalapally, U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“We can only imagine the challenges the early volunteers faced here in 1962, in a country then called British Honduras. I can only imagine the roads, communications and so on. There were no cell phones, no cameras or home computers. Many villages had no electricity, yet those early volunteers were motivated and instrumental in helping Belize to train nurses, teachers and students. They assisted in building roads, schools and libraries. They assisted in installing water systems in some of the most remote villages. As the decades passed and the information technology age arrived, Peace Corps and Belize moved together from the past into the present. The first Peace Corps I.T program was established right here in Belize.”


Today, a letter of intent was signed between U.S Peace Corps and Ministry of Health Officials.  Country Director, Nina Hernandez says the project is set to start in 2013.


Nina Hernandez

Nina Hernandez, Country Director, Peace Corps

“For the past nine months or so, we’ve been working with the Ministry of Health to develop a framework for what will become our new health project with a focus on family and community health projects. Our project will be designed to meet the express priority areas in the area of health for the Government of Belize. We are working jointly and strategically to develop a program that not only, provides great opportunities for our volunteers in Belize but where there are outcomes being measured and where we can see and monitor progress over time.”


And while there are countless stories of Peace Corps work, the strength of the partnership lies within the many tales of friendship and love. Whether the testimonies are from the hosts or the volunteers, it is clear that the work of the Peace Corps has been a mutually beneficial programme.


Elsie Zamora

Elsie Zamora, Director, George Price Center

“The teachers came to us and said that the main problem they had was trying to impart their knowledge with the students was because there were too many conflicts in the classroom. So we started with a workshop for teachers and Cisco was really instrumental in putting together the workshops and train the teachers. He trained all the teachers of Belmopan. I believe it was two hundred and fifty of them, which was really great.”


Gayla Missett

Gayla Missett, Peace Corps Volunteer, Corozal District

“What really pulls at my heart strings is the relationship I have with the women’s group, Kich Pan Hana Tortilla Factory, in my village. It has been an amazing experience to watch this group of eight women take wings and fly. I have never seen such hard working, dedicated and enthusiastic women. Their desire to learn and improve their business and lifestyle has been nothing short of incredible. They have been tireless in their efforts and think nothing of working seven days a week.  Of course, I put a halt to that and told them that in my country that is illegal. They have been an invaluable support system. Their hard work has paid off with higher profits, better transparency, a work schedule that allows time for family and the possibility to expand the business to include a restaurant as well.”


Hernandez says the partnerships formed here help to secure more Peace Corps volunteers like Gayla Missett. After all, volunteers are the most vital part of the any partnership formed for much needed projects to be carried out.


Nina Hernandez

“Peace Corp does wonderful work but it doesn’t stand alone. We’ve done so through our partners here in Belize and we have done so for over fifty years. So, partnership for us is key. In Washington, decisions are being made about where to allocate resources and volunteers are in effect our most precious resources. We are competing with seventy plus other countries for where to place volunteers and we would like them here in Belize. Partnerships are a must for that and we need real dialogue like what is in the best interest for the communities in Belize.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Peace Corp volunteers are currently working with the Ministry of Health to update the current health care manual, which is used by over two hundred community health workers. There are thirty-four volunteers serving in Belize.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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12 Responses for “Peace Corps 50 years in Belize”

  1. Storm says:

    In years pas the Peace Corps has done a lot of good here and around the world, but in recent years it is reported to be adding a “social justice” agenda, not just technical and material help. Social justice is a great-sounding catch-phrase, but for the Peace Corps, and the UN, it includes undermining religion and Christian values. Acceptance of same-sex marriage and abortion as a form of birth control are major parts of that leftist agenda that I reject. How do you feel about them?

  2. jesse says:

    And every belizean say’thanks USA for helping our poor nation.

  3. blackberry says:

    How many of them have promoted the homosexual agenda, and how many are CIA operatives?

  4. Rod says:

    Today 80 percent of them are eighter CIA or dea plain truth.

  5. White Man Agenda says:

    Look at our CEO ministry of Health , what do you espect, we allow him to be our CEO like we don’t have any qualified Belizean doctor ot dentist to be CEO. signning a document for Americans to teach us family values, what a joke.

  6. Al says:

    blackberry, I would welcome the CIA operatives in Belize. If there were CIA operatives as you think, trust me they would catch a hell of a whole lot of where these guns and drugs are comming from. I am not saying some intellegence is not at work, not where you think.

    The early years of the Peace Corp in Belize was different because the country was different, the world was different, it was almost a time of innocence, but as Belize prospered and Television came into the country, we learned how to be like the rest of the world.
    I remember when we had just radio, how we listened to the BBC and waited for the radio programs which we now call soap opera, those were the good tilmes.

  7. Orlando Pulido says:

    I was trained at the Belize Teacher’s College by Peace Corps. Many decades later, they were instrumental in teaching me internet networking and management.

    Today, I run a successful IT business thanks to their investment in the Belizean human capital. I am a product of the Peace Corps in Belize and am very involved in my community; asking at every turn what more can I do for my country.

  8. henry says:

    @ Storm Couldn’t agree with you more.

  9. nicholasa says:

    the ceo in the ministry of health would be better being ceo of UNIBAM… see how he generously defended the male thief at the ministry of health but viciously victimizes hard working women in the healthcare system and is quick to discipline those who refuse to carry out his unilateral mandates… the dentist is drilling the ministry of health to the ground

  10. Floridalma says:

    The ministry of health is in a sad state with the dental CEO lobbing to get rid of his professional staff so he can enter the pharmaceutical business with his crew. The entire staff shud demonstrate getting this pink foreigner out and away. The only one who give support to him is electrician minister of health

  11. Carina Lucy Quan says:

    What the hell is this now? damage control? The Peace Corps or the Perverted Corps? I would like for them to take their HFLE manual to Iraq or Libya, go with it too and see what will happen. Only in Belize we accept bull and put it on a pedestal. Peace Corps have no applaud from me. You can take your money and what you call cultural exchange and LGBT to hell. Leave us here in belize and go back where you came from or to Islamic countries.John F Kennedy would turn in his grave to know that they are promoting a homosexual agenda and brainwashing our poor children into thinking that @$$-taking is healthy and normal. As for the CEO of Health, how dare he tolerate them to teach that here in Belize. I heard they want to write a manual for the health workers and Health allowing them to do that????!!!!!!!!
    Looks like Belize does not know what is good for them. We beg beg beg for help until we get $#!% in our bosom, ………………I would be happy if they were not here in Belize

  12. Betty Ann Coleman says:

    Personally, I can’t trust them anymore. they have lost my respect with this teacher’s manual teaching teachers how to get boys to admire boys and girls to admire girls and to talk about sexual experience and don’t tell their parents what they are learning in the class about sex. Shame on the ministry of education to partner with them for a job like that. Faber should be glad that election is far away.The UDP promised us to do what is right but they have failed miserably and the worse part is they do not care. We the belizeans need an apology from Faber and from the Peace Corpse for this manual that they had in our public schools. Now who will go back and teach the right things to those kids who were taught all that lies and garbage?I hope thir parents are sensible and moral enough to teach them what is honorable, true and good

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