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Feb 25, 2022

The Bright Side: Asylum Seeker Pursues Educational Dreams in Belize

For decades, Belize has been a beacon for people fleeing conflict or violence elsewhere in Central America. This week Sabreena Daly brings you the story of young woman we will only identify as “Anita” who had to leave everything behind in El Salvador to come to Belize. And while this bright high school student is aiming high academically, she also wants to become a teacher so she can say “thank you” to the country enabling her to continue her education, free from fear. Here is this week’s episode of The Bright Side.


Sabreena Daly, Reporting

You might think you are just looking at a regular student. But Anita wears the pride of attending a top secondary institution in Belize on her shoulders. And she carries a full academic load, focused on the sciences—biology, chemistry and physics.


Karen Canto

Karen Canto, Principal E.P. Yorke High School

“She is definitely a pleasant young lady. Personally, I’m going to start with personally, when I was ill, she would text me and ask me how I’m doing. Always very respectful. She is hard-working. Any student pulling a three Science major really has no time to waste and her grades are a testimony of her commitment. “


But commitment aside, there is more to what meets the eye with this student of Edward P. York High school, Anita. In the confines of her classroom, she is described as a brilliant student intrigued by philosophy and curious about the laws of physics. But beyond that, there is a story only few know. Anita is a migrant, whose family is seeking asylum in Belize.




“The reason I came to Belize was because in my country it was very dangerous at the time. My father and older sister would come and pick me up and drop me to school. But there was this time, that due to my father’s job, his responsibilities and stuff, the gangsters from the area, they tried to, well attempt to…watching every step we made if … who went to pick me up this day, who went the other day and that’s because they wanted to kill me… “


Sabreena Daly

“To Kill you?”


“Due to his profession because he was a police officer.”


Anita and her family sought refuge in Belize 6 years ago. Her father, who did not want to be identified, says they had no choice.


Anita's father

Anita’s father

 [Translated to English] “To me it felt like leaving everything for nothing. But at the end of the day it was a matter of life and death.”


Sabreena Daly

“Tell me about your experience coming into a new country. You said you were loved in your old school in El Salvador, but now you’re here in Primary school and you can’t speak English. What was that like?”



“It was sad first of all because, well I couldn’t get along with everyone as I used to. Only um… three or four girls in my class, the boys were very nice to me, um the teachers… “


Not all Belizeans were welcoming. In fact, discrimination would be the common theme in much of her life here in Belize since the transition for safety, a human right.



“From Standard five, even people that didn’t go to school, none teachers, just people from outside would say that I wouldn’t graduate from primary school. I graduated from primary school and became the first place in PSE and first place in all the subjects in my class. We have the small merits, certificates, all of that. “


Anita shares that her experiences of being an asylum seeker goes beyond finding refuge in Belize. Even without the same documentation as other students, she feels compelled to give back the country that took her family in.



“Well since the country is small I would like for it to develop like the other countries because Belize isn’t less among the other countries because it isn’t as developed. Us fourth formers that are going to go to college, UB, we are going to be professionals and most of the people studying here go abroad to continue their studies or perform their job but I would like to stay and help Belize grow. “


Karen Canto, Principal

“In her case, you know, this is fourth form and she still doesn’t have one. (Social Card) But that is not going to hamper her here. We have had students from other parts of the world, not limited to even our territory, that have graduated from here in some similar situations. And we’ve never stopped them, ever.“


Sabreena Daly

“So I hear you’re studying one of the hardest subjects ever. What do you want to be?”



“Hmmm, I have many things in mind. But I guess the main thing would be me making a major in physics, um, science. I love the branch of science, any branch.  Um, I initially wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t hear about what, just teach. Because I love teaching. And now that I found out about physics and all the things that one can know about the world itself, I believe physics or philosophy also because it has a lot to do with the mind. “


Looking on the Bright Side, I am Sabreena Daly.

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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