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Nov 28, 2022

Moving Ahead Together; Creating Positive Changes for a Better Belize

A new non-governmental organization was officially launched over the weekend at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City. During its first in-person meeting, MAT – Moving Ahead Together – is resolute in its mission to rebuild Belize through positive change, education and empowerment. While it was founded a few months ago by well-known attorney and activist Audrey Matura, its members are from across the country – persons who may not be known as activists, but who want to see a change made in their communities so they are asserting themselves. And as News Five’s Duane Moody found out, they are ready for the pushback that may come with their new roles. Here’s a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Moving Ahead Together, or MAT for short, was registered by attorney Audrey Matura back in September, but was officially launched on November twenty-sixth. Its goal is creating positive changes for a better Belize.


Audrey Matura

Audrey Matura, Founder, Moving Ahead Together

“On Emancipation Day this year, I was in bed and I am thinking, look at all the things happening in our country. We have a failed opposition, our leaders seem so petty, we have issues about how we should use our natural resources, we have issues about health, the crises, we have crime, all these things and so many people on Facebook crying about it. I have always been very vocal, but I want to do more so the following day, I put a post up and I said I would like to form a movement – who is willing, are you willing to make the sacrifice, is basically what I said. I said inbox me. Look in less than an hour I got sixty inboxes, I couldn’t even respond. Before the night was out, I had over a hundred. You all have to know these are literally all strangers. It is not people I have met or know.   We are meeting her for the first time. We’ve met virtually, but in-person for the first time. I basically said, if you have the same heart I have, you have the same interest I have if you love your country and want to make a difference join.”


Most of the members are persons who are new to activism, but believe that they can be part of the change that the country needs. Xiomara Garcia is a teacher from Dangriga and Dwight Crawford is an accounts manager from San Jose Succotz, but living and working in San Pedro. They shared their perspectives.


Dwight Crawford

Dwight Crawford, Member, Moving Ahead Together

“I think that my generation is not involved in these movements and I would really like to be a mentor to my generation and encourage them to be a part to stand up. Many times I see like the B.N.T.U. and I don’t think they have the support of the people and I want to be a part of things like that – to support those that are fighting for change within our country.”


Xiomara Garcia

Xiomara Garcia, Member, Moving Ahead Together

“My expectation is that hopefully we see development – not individual, but community-wise – in terms of our women, our youth, our infrastructure and in whatever area it is that we can improve our country because ultimately Belize is ours and whatever we do should be for the benefit of Belize. I come from a very large family, very big people. I am the youngest child in my family and so I am not intimated by people or by size – I am the smallest in my family – so number and size don’t intimidate me. And I have my passion for what I believe in so if I believe in something, I go a thousand percent.”


The keynote speaker was Senator Elena Smith, President of the Belize National Teachers Union, who has organized protests against corruption and successfully negotiated for good governance and more.  But being a government watchdog is not without its challenges, some of which Smith shared with members of the newly formed people’s movement.


Elena Smith

Elena Smith, Union Senator

“When you do these things, it comes with pushback and if you are not prepared for the pushback, then you are going to fall aside.  And when we have these people who are going to be starting and stopping half way because they get frightened, they get scared, somebody threatens them, somebody begins to bully them, you have to have that courage to understand that this is a part of this journey and if I will take it seriously, I must understand that it comes with those things.”


Duane Moody

“Share with us some of those challenges that you have faced.”


Elena Smith

“It’s been quite a lot. While I was strike, my house was broken into, my documents were stolen; I’ve received death threats. I’ve had persons who’ve come to me and said I am coming from a party meeting and this is the discussion and so there are guys who are out there to get you. My children have been targeted, but as I said, that’s a part of you being an activist, of you doing your work.”


Audrey Matura

“I know what it is to be a single mother, I know what it is to be dragged through the family court, I know what it is to be locked up, I know what it is to be imprisoned, I know what it is to be called names and attacked, I know what it is to be threatened, I know what it is to stand on my own. I can feel the compassion for people who are homeless because I know what that is too whether you believe it or not, who are hungry. I can feel the compassion for the women who can see their children dying and don’t have the ways of getting them the best healthcare. For the man who is trying to get a job and doesn’t know how he’ll feed his children. I have the human experience.”


Founder Audrey Matura speaks about some of the fundamental issues guiding the organization.


Audrey Matura

“I think no matter which party is in, you are entitled to your land, you are entitled to your job, you are entitled to good healthcare, you are entitled proper schooling for your kids. Look, there is just so much in my mind that I would want see better for my country, and I know we can do it. But I can’t do it alone, so a group of a hundred strangers have come together and we call ourselves the first one hundred.”


According to Matura, MAT will be supported through fundraisers and assistance from the diaspora. Duane Moody for News Five.


The first in-person session at the Biltmore also featured presentations by persons such as Nigel Petillo on land ownership and the struggle of Belizeans to own and develop land as a means of economic security; Cristina Coc and the importance of grassroots organizing, Maya land rights and the struggle to enforce the judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Also present as guest speakers were Louis Wade Jr. and attorney Dickie Bradley on knowing your rights under the constitution and the need to actively participate in the discourse.

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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