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Nov 30, 2005

Hostel students strive for better lives

Story PictureMuch of our coverage this week has focussed on women, but tonight we highlight the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens, our children and their fight for a better way of life. Today I met some young men and women, who despite the challenges of reality are determined to be productive members of society.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Presently, the Youth Hostel at mile twenty-one and a half on the Western Highway is home to twenty-five boys and girls between the ages of twelve and seventeen years old. The children, who come through the court system were sent to the institution because of uncontrollable behaviour or participation in burglaries and drug trafficking. Most of these young residents are first time offenders who are being given a second chance at life. The rehabilitation is not easy because many these children were neglected at home and some developed aggressive or negative attitudes and repeatedly got into trouble.

Fourteen year old Shirlene Arnold says she started running away from home into the waiting arms of her friends because they gave her the love and attention she says she never received at home. She was caught in the act five times before she was sent to the Youth Hostel. This month makes one year since Arnold has been at the institution.

Shirlene Arnold, Hostel Resident
?It has been good until I started to go to school and I faced a lot of discrimination, hate. People say hostel is bad, lone bad case go to hostel. But nowadays I try to ignore them, but I am a short tempered person and if they tease me a lot I easy to get angry.?

Tonight the institution?s chief supervisor Glendamae Martinez is calling on the Belizean community to give the residents guidance, love and attention instead of condemnation.

Glendamae Martinez, Chief Supervisor, Youth Hostel
?These are great kids and we want people to know that, that these kids are here because some of them have suffered abandonment, neglect, abuse… you name it, these kids have went through it. And some of them have a lack of parental guidance.?

Yesenia Oliva, Hostel Resident
?Not because this institution has a bad image that means that everybody that comes in this institution is because they give a lot of trouble. Some of the residents in the youth hostel are here because they had some problem in between their family and they just reacted in a negative way that led them to be in a place like this.?

The young residents participate in a series of rehabilitation programmes that build self-esteems and encourage positive behaviour.

These are the paintings of sixteen year old Chayan Williams who was brought to the institution following a charge of burglary. He?s only five months here, but today this creative youth seems to be making the changes necessary for him to become a productive member of society.

Chayan Williams, Hostel Resident
?Peer pressure; that what happen to me and that?s why I came here. And I said that when I go out there I wah change my life because it noh mek no sense I deh in yah without my family and Christmas done di come and I?m not with my family and I want come out.?

Fourteen year old Yesenia Oliva also wants to go to a loving home. Oliva has been at the institution for two years. The good news is that during her stay at the institution, she also won the hearts of some very special people. In December, she is scheduled to start living with her new adopted family.

Yesenia Oliva, Hostel Resident
?I am happy about that; very excited that I am going to a new family and my life will start again.?

Glendamae Martinez
?One of the major challenges that we face here is that presently we do not have an in house counsellor. We use the services of the counselling centre in Belize City.?

?What we would like to develop at the institution is a mentorship programme. We have a lot of qualified people out there, who could come in and give us a helping hand. You could share some of that knowledge with our children here so that they can use that knowledge to enhance their lives.?

?One of the things that I would really like to see is for our premises to be fenced, because of the safety of our nation?s children. I think it?s a great need.?

Oliva and Arnold, who both attend high school, say in the future they hope to be ones to make a difference in someone?s life.

Yesenia Oliva, Resident
?If I don?t get to be a lawyer, I would like to be a judge. Why I would like to be a judge is because I would be there?maybe before a young teenager get to in a place like this or go to jail, I would like to help them, talk to them before I chose a decision for them.?

Shirlene Arnold
?I plan to get the highest level of education and do my best to become a nurse. I want help people, I don?t want to leave them there on the streets or so, I want to help them to become something better.?

Youth Awareness week is being observed under the theme: The child, the family, the institution, the community-We all play a vital role in the rehabilitation of our nation’s children.

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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