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Jan 30, 2007

Grieving mothers unite to end violence

Story PictureTheir names were in the headlines as victims of urban violence, but while dozens of young corpses fill our cemeteries each year, the family members left behind are not grieving alone. On Sunday they gathered to make a statement in the hope that others may be spared their torment.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
They came to the special memorial service wearing T-shirts, carrying placards and pictures of their loved ones who were gunned down—mostly in the streets of Belize City, but also from the Cayo District. In a symbolic gesture, the families lit and then put out candles signifying the life and death of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, mothers, and fathers.

Erwin X, President, Mothers Organized for Peace
“How many grieving mothers? How many more weeping sisters? How many more fallen brothers? How many more dead fathers?”

The service was planned by Mothers Organized for Peace and Yabra Development Citizens Committee and presided over by Father Lloyd Neal of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral.

Father Lloyd Neal, Officiating Priest
“This afternoon, it’s highly emotionally charged. You feel it? Why we feel it that way is because of what has been happening in our streets.”

“It used to be that when you went to sleep you woke up in the mornings and then you heard of something taken place, right? But nowadays it seems to be happening right before your very eyes in the streets. Our young men and young women are caught up in crime and violence.”

Karen Adolphus and Therese Felix are two mothers whose sons were brutally killed. Today they are at the forefront in giving support to families and fighting crime.

Karen Adolphus, Member, M.O.P.
“And I do care and love my son. Of course I should be because my son, they haven’t found who killed him yet. So I am concerned, I am a mother who is worried and will never forget.”

Therese Felix, Vice President, M.O.P.
“As you know my son died Mother’s Day also and after Mother’s Day, I formed Mothers Organized for Peace. I mean last year too much dead, ninety one, and then you have before that.”

Officer in charge of the Crimes Investigation, Branch Assistant Superintendent of Police Chester Williams, says because their work relies on information from the public, the police are encouraged by the number of people who attended.

Asp. Chester Williams, O.C. Crimes Investigation Branch
“It is very good for us to see that has happened and it is an effort that will continues that more and more people can get involved. Let them see that it does not only take the police, but it must be a community effort.”

City standard bearers Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Cordel Hyde, and Michael Finnegan were impressed by the large congregation and offered their own views on what it will take to end the violence.

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, U.D.P Standard Bearer
“People do not have the ability to earn their living in an honest way, a legitimate way, and that’s because many of them are not qualified to do any job. They don’t have the education, they don’t have the discipline.”

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Youth
“I think what has been happening is an indictment against the government who hasn’t backed their rhetoric with enough budget. I think it is an indictment against community leaders, it’s an indictment against fathers who in particular has failed.”

Michael Finnegan, Area Representative, Mesopotamia
“I think we just need to remind people that the Lord has made us a little bit lower than the angels, but he has crowned us with his glory. I think that’s all we need to remind people of.”

Following the special service the families then marched through the streets to Lord Ridge Cemetery where they laid wreaths on top of their loved one’s graves.

Families of young victims of other tragedies were also remembered, like Albert Hoy III, an S.J.C. junior college student whose autopsy was not conclusive on the subject of suicide.

Sadly, this mother who recently buried her son Last February went to lay a wreath only to discover someone had stolen a number of the cement blocks from around his grave.

Karen Adolphus, after supporting the other families, visited the resting place of her son, Kareem Swazo. Adolphus, still struggling with her loss, has not been to the cemetery for a while.

Karen Adolphus (Singing and crying)
”Bye, Mattie. Bye son.”

So far in 2007 four Belizeans have been murdered and a far greater number wounded in attempted homicides.

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