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Nov 30, 2021

Clean Up Projects Providing Work and Building Community Pride

Young men living in gang ridden areas of Belize City are often deemed lazy and unmotivated to work. But, many of these young men would argue this is far from the truth.  On the contrary, they say the youth in their communities are willing to work, but job opportunities are slow in coming.  In addition, no stable income and an over abundance of free time are also cited for why some embark on a life of crime. That is why the Department of Youth Services in collaboration with these communities and other government agencies are partnering to create small job opportunities for young men in Belize City.  News Five’ s Paul Lopez Reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Over the past two weeks, teams of young men from across Belize City have been using their free time to clean up their communities. Here in the Mayflower Street area, they are hard at work.


Voice of: Mayflower Community Member

“Lot of them nuh have nothing fih do. Deh have something fih do and deh the mek a lee ends, they wah work. Cause, you have to give everybody a chance eena life. Lotta people judge the lee youths pan the street. Watch it, watch the work deh yah young bway the do. Deh yah dah work. People could hire we to do next thing to, but people nuh trust we.”


It’s no different in the St. Martin’s Community where Brandon Smith says many of the youth are looking for jobs.


Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith, St. Martin’s Community Member

“Everybody weh wah work, Deh got some people weh wah work and some weh nuh wah work. If you could sih deh give the job we ah work it. We just need things like deh yah to continue.”


But how do efforts like these contribute towards curbing the prevailing issue of gang related crimes?


Jermaine Garnett

Jermaine Garnett, St. Martin’s Community Member

“If deh create the jobs deh we wah always ready fih do them you know. But, we can’t guh out deh because remember business people in high places nuh really want we from eena the ghetto. So, what they have to do is get the project for we, the big building and then come tell we wih wah unu get a couple guys and come paint dah building, clean it down, power wash it down, and we ready fih get up the team and guh do it, instead ah we stay round eena yard and nuh the do nothing, cause remember idle minds leads to idle things check.”


A similar plea is being made by those in the Mayflower Community.


Voice of: MayFlower Community Member

“Deh just have to give we a chance eena life and everybody want a chance. People need help. And, this bless weh deh the do. Deh should ah keep this up every three four months and see the good progress weh wah happen outta it, every three four months give we a leet job fih tek care of the areas. Because if we get a lee job, cause we have families to feed,  so, if we get a lee job, clean up the areas, that woulda good.”


William Dawson, Chairman of the Leadership Intervention Unit, says the cleanup project also creates an opportunity to build civic pride.


William Dawson, Chairman, Leadership Intervention Unit

“One of the things that we want to make sure is a priority is instilling civic pride in many of these young people, teaching them to keep their communities clean, taking ownership, being the greatest stakeholder in this entire collaboration, we have to make sure to introduce them to soft skills and in that regard we are looking to introduce them to civic pride, taking care of their community and being a part of the upkeep of their environment.”


Civic pride is an easy sell as it turns out, because these men, from separate communities, all share the same desire to see the overgrown lots kept and the drains cleaned.


Brandon Smith

“Ih wah give people a chance to clean up after yo, because when deh sih dirt deh just dash bout dirt anywhere to, yo understand me. That why deh call it the ghetto cause well, dirt the deh so I wah dash mines deh to.”


Paul Lopez

“But you are saying the ghetto doesn’t have to look like the ghetto?”


Brandon Smith

“No, it doesn’t have to look like the ghetto.”


Voice of: May Flower Community Member

“I know yo have to keep your community clean and love your community. Once yo do good works in your community people wah love yo. That dah weh we want, we want love fih the community. Mek we try do it for the kids, because we done big, and cause all ah we got kids and we watch deh grow up right eena the community.”


Through  the creation of job opportunities and encouraging  civic pride, hope exists for a peaceful Belize City where guns can be put aside in exchange for working tools. Garnett thinks it’s possible to go a year without violence– IF job opportunities are consistently offered.


Jermaine Garnett

“It is possible to happen, if all idle minds the do something, paint down a building and use a shovel and a wheelbaroow deh nuh have no next moment fih do. From deh deh rest up, deh wah tired and guh home eena bed when the night come with deh family and rest up, chec. So if that happens fih the whole year, only wheel barrow and shovel deh wah sih. Deh nuh wah sih no kind ah tools, fire arms weh deh the talk bout. Nothing eena deh sense a way deh.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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