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May 25, 2021

A Sewing Program to Tackle Poverty and Crime!

We don’t usually think about sewing skills when we think about police departments, but the Community Policing Unit held a graduation ceremony at the Wilton Cumberbatch Field in Belize City today that was a little bit different. Andrea Polanco reports.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Five women who completed a six-month sewing program were awarded certificates. The initiative is part of the Community Policing Unit of the Belize Police Department’s Eastern Division.


Richard Rosado

ACP Dr. Richard Rosado, Regional Commander, Eastern Division

“As a department we are cognizant that equipping women and at-risk-youth with marketable skills will facilitate opportunity for gainful employment; hence the reason we have embraced the sewing program as one of the community outreach initiatives.”


One of the graduates is Arlene Castillo. While she doesn’t live on the Southside, she travelled all the way from Corozal to attend this training program over the last few months. She says that while this will help her to support her family – it will also help her to carry on her father’s legacy.


Arlene Castillo

Arlene Castillo, Graduate, Community Development Sewing Programme

“Sewing is something I have grown to love and it is something that I want to do for life; something that I was yearning to do and following my father’s footsteps. He was murdered last year – Paul Castillo – he was a tailor and so I am following his footsteps.   I climbed a mountain for me that I felt I couldn’t climb. I learned to sew the Garifuna skirt for my daughter. I learned to sew curtains, dress and other things I knew I couldn’t do. I learned to sew bed sheets, bath suits and it is something that I love so it is something that I will continue to do.”


Andrea Polanco

“How does this make you feel today knowing that you have accomplished this and you are able to carry on your father’s legacy?”


Arlene Castillo

“I feel so proud of myself that sometimes we bring down ourselves but I am bring myself up today because I made it forward. “


Andrea Polanco

“What’s next for you Arlene?”


Arlene Castillo

“My next step is to slowly open up my business.  Because I am a single mother. I have two kids and this is what I will use to provide for them.”


This is the third cohort of the sewing program that was started under the guidance of retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Robert Mariano. Mariano learned to sew at the age of twelve and ever since then he has been sharing his skills to empower others. Today he joined the group to celebrate their accomplishments. This year one of Mariano’s former students in the program led the training:


Kafara Mariano, Focal Point, Community Development Sewing Programme

“The ladies learnt how to do bath suits, dashiki, skirts, dresses; pants; basic things so that they can maneuver and help themselves and help their kids.”


Andrea Polanco

“Did they have any sewing skills before they started or were they all green?”


Kafara Mariano

Kafara Mariano

“They were all green and I brought them out ripe and they learned everything so fast and I have to applaud them for that.”


According to Rosado, this empowerment project will not only equip women with sewing skills but will help to reduce poverty and crime in underprivileged communities.


ACP Dr. Richard Rosado

“We know that the initiative is a good initiative and we know that providing that opportunity for at risk youth and women, it does help us address the crime situation in Belize.  From walking the street of southside Belize City we have encountered a lot of single parents and at risk youths who are seeking employment and I believe that by us providing the avenue for them to develop that marketing skills will help a lot in providing that income for them and help us eventually with the reduction of crime because poverty somehow correlates with crime.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


If you want to support the women from the sewing program, you can reach Arlene Castillo at 626-1610.

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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