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Jul 1, 2022

“The old man, we are going to help”

Up north in San Joaquin, Corozal District, one family is changing the lives of the eldery who cannot look after themselves. Sabreena Daly tells us more in this week’s look on the bright side.

 

Sabreena Daly, Reporting

Up north in San Joaquin, Corozal District, one family is changing the lives of the eldery who cannot look after themselves. Sabreena Daly tells us more in this week’s look on the bright side.

Sabreena

“Could you say it in English?”

 

Solomon Polanco

Solomon Polanco, Resident Casa Chan Ka’an

“A seh if you live alone?”

 

Sabreena

“Solomon! Let’s save the romance for after the interview, okay?”

 

It’s hard to imagine that Solomon Polanco, a resident of Casa Chan Ka’an, didn’t have a wife during his productive years. In fact, most of my interview with the octogenarian was spent explaining to him that we wouldn’t be able to make it work. But Solomon is a lover, not a fighter, and, apparently, that was also the reason he left his home country, Guatemala, to come to Belize forty years ago.

Solomon

“I want Belize because this country noh like fight.”

 

Sabreena:

“They don’t fight here?”

 

Solomon

“no.”

 

Sabreena

“And in your country, they like fighting?”

 

Solomon

“Yes!”

Sabreena

“Is it Dangerous?”

 

Solomon

“Yes, Yes!”

 

Now, well in his eighties, Solomon, is spending his golden years with a bunch of guys who share similar stories. They live in a home. They didn’t have a wife…and they have no family or friends outside to look after them. For people like Solomon and his five friends, that’s where Casa Chan Ka’an came to their aid.


Migdalia Pol

Migdalia Pol, Owner Casa Chan Ka’an

“Well, Casa Chaan Kaan is a home for homeless people. This is the work we do.  Some of them have seven years, eight years with us, five years, one year and we try our best. We give them food. Three times food, we maintain them and care for them, love them until their last days.”

 

Migdalia Pol is one of the owners of Casa Chaan Kaan. She describes it as a labor of love that her family developed in honor of their late father who was a giver by nature. Ten years later, Casa Chaan Kaan has been home to almost thirty vagrant elders.


Migdalia Pol, Casa Chan Ka’an

“Some people know about us. Like two of them, the chairman of their village brought them here. They were living some place alone. They can’t work so they go out begging for food. Sometimes people help them but not every day. So, the chairman brought them here and they promise that they would help but they never come back. Some of them living on the streets and the people bring them here.”

 

Alexander Moguel, originally from Belize City, repaired fans back in the day. Now, he is happy to have a home where he is well taken care of. He has a bed and his own personal fan.

Alexander Moguel

Alexander Moguel, resident Casa Chan Ka’an

“In the morning, I get mi dinner twelve O’ clock. I get my tea in the evening. I got my bed to sleep and I got mi fan. I got my television to look at. I don’t need nothing more than that.”

Migdalia Pol, Casa Chan Ka’an

“One of them, Alejandro, he was living in an old truck by Santa Elena Road and he had an accident and the hospital don’t know where he can go. He couldn’t go back to the truck so, they called me and I went to see him at the hospital and I bring him back home. So, he’s here with us. So, that’s how people come. We have a lot of people come here. Imagine ten years. We had almost thirty people. Hondurans, Guatemalans, Mexicans, Belizeans, all different people; that’s how they come.”

 

Twenty-five-year-old Jason Castillo has been the newest caretaker for Casa Chaan Kaan. He’s been here for five months. But this selfless young man is not here by profession. He’s a numbers guy that hopes to go back to school to study economics. Jason says he took on the job because of sheer fascination and the pursuit of an adventure.

 

Jahson Castillo

Jahson Castillo, Caretaker Casa Chan Ka’an
“In the morning just like basic routine, get the boys ready for the day, have their breakfast ready for them. I’d fix up the house, straighten up the house and just sit down and vibes and enjoy outside here with them.”

 

And vibing with the boys gives Jason a chance to sing in his mother tongue.  Garifuna music and dance keep his guests entertained.

Jahson Castillo, Caretaker Casa Chan Ka’an

“I enjoy here and sometimes I sing for them and dance for them. For the most part, three of them are blind but they can still listen and sing and dance and vybe. Like Mohab, Mohab will dance.The most thing I’ve learnt from communicating with them is that one day you can be up there and the other day you can have nothing. Sometimes people just love you or use you if you have money or if you have something to give them. For instance, some of them, they had friends, most don’t have family but they had friends and the only reason why their friends stick around was because they had a little coin or had a little to offer. So, like the saying says, once a man twice a child, you don’t know who is going to be there for you, who is going to take care of you. and I said I have to treat them with love because one day I will get old as well.”

 

With age comes the inevitable. According to Migdalia Pol, the hardest part of taking care of the elderly is watching them take their last breath. Taking on the responsibility, however, also means making sure that they are given a proper sendoff. When someone passes away here, the funeral attendees are often the same people that took care of them.


Migdalia Pol, Casa Chan Ka’an

“Well, when they die, my brother, we buy the coffin. We have a church to the back and we have the burying ground there. I talk to the chairman. The chairman helps us and we take them there to rest. Just us, just me and my sisters. Many of them, when they’re dying, they say bye with their hands. With their hands, bye. They say thank you for everything. It’s like you can imagine that some of them hold your hand and they talk you know, they talk and just go to sleep. Some of them hold our hands and say thank you, you are my family. They close their eye and they go.”

 

The work of Casa Chan Ka’an begs the question, what defines family? The love of strangers may sometimes burn stronger than one’s relatives. “The old man we are going to help” is the motto of this home for the elderly. And, after storied lives, the residents of Casa Chan Kaan, can say they experienced a little bit of heaven right here on earth.

 

Looking on the Bright Side, I’m 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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