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Sep 29, 2005

News 5 recalls Michael Nembhard during Sr. Citizens Week

Story PictureThe theme of this year’s Senior Citizen’s Week is “Ageing with Dignity.” And if there was ever a man who fit that description, it is the subject of our next story. When veteran educator and prison chaplain Michael Nembhard agreed to appear on camera in 1994, he was one hundred and three years old. We joined him on his rounds in Hattieville.

Rudy Castillo, Narrator
He makes his way slowly through the dimly lit cells and corridors of the Belize Central Prison. Despite the weight of his hundred and three years, Michael Nembhard walks easily without fear among the thieves, muggers, and murderers. A retired teacher turned prison chaplain, he doesn’t make the twenty-mile trip easily, but he makes it just the same.

Michael Nembhard
“You don’t want an easy life because you have the easiest life you can have to be here in the prison. But you will be outside, where you have to have the responsibility as a man. And to remain here all the time, you see, you kill your manhood.”

Nembhard believes that one of the greatest problems facing Belize is its men… or lack of them. Many are absentee fathers, depriving homes of a masculine role model. Like father to son, Nembhard instils the pride of manhood, even in those who have made mistakes serious enough to land them in jail.

Michael Nembhard
“I figure that I’ve been going along and trying to sow the seed and try to sow as best a seed as I can possibly sow.”

Born in Jamaica in 1891, Nembhard first came to Belize, or British Honduras, in 1923. He has taught all over the country in a career spanning seventy years. After an epic working life, Nembhard is still enthusiastic about his chosen field.

Michael Nembhard
“To me, teaching is not a job; teaching is a profession, and a calling. If I had to begin my life over again, I think I would do teaching.”

To travel a hundred years with one foot in the 19th Century and the other at the end of the 20th is no mean achievement. To still be helping the young at an advance and usually fragile age is not only remarkable, but inspirational.

Michael Nembhard
“I have at my home two old machetes. I haven’t used them and they stay there and rust down to nothing, just rust down. And I show my children and I show people who come, and say “That’s how we become, when we just stay and do nothing. You just rust down.” And it’s remarkable how rusting, it’s remarkable how rusting can get you down fast.”

That story forms part of a series entitled “Coming of Age” produced by Channel 5 in cooperation with Helpage Belize.

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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