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Apr 19, 2023

Living With a Disability in Dire Conditions

It is estimated that more than thirty-five thousand persons in Belize live with some form of disability. Over the years, efforts have been made to raise awareness about persons living with disabilities in Belize. There have also been initiatives geared at creating greater inclusivity in the workplace and in public spaces. But, as Kenrick Theus, the President of the Belize Assembly of Persons with Diverse Abilities has advocated on numerous occasions, there is a need for greater assistance. Today, News Five’s Paul Lopez visited the Belize City home of a disabled man living in dire conditions. Here is that report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Sixty-eight-year-old Gilbert Nathaniel was born with polio. The disease caused damage to both of his legs and that has led to a lifetime of limited mobility. But, despite the odds he faces, Nathaniel has been trying to make the most of his life, living inside this small wooden structure located inside an alley on Richardson Street in Belize City. For the past ten years this is the place he has called home.


Gilbert Nathaniel

Gilbert Nathaniel, Belize City Resident

“Polio that was February of 1955, three to four months my mother, because she was a big woman, and she experienced difficulties because she born November the fifth 1915.”


This abject living condition is far from acceptable for anyone, let alone someone living with such a disability. With no access to electricity, Nathaniel is unable to negotiate this cramped space at night.  He also does not have access to water inside his home and is reliant on his neighbors for potable water. The sixty-eight-year-old stores water inside these plastic bottles that are outside, on the ground, exposed to all the elements. The area in front of his structure floods when it rains.


Gilbert Nathaniel

“When you come here prior to Lisa, the Wednesday evening the storm surge was three to four feet.”


Paul Lopez

“What did you do?”


Gilbert Nathaniel

“I wanted to go to shelter but by then Lisa hit because it was in the morning.”


Paul Lopez

“So what did you do?”
Gilbert Nathaniel

“I had to stay. The challenges I face with the light, especially light, in the night I can’t see. I have to leave food until the morning, like grocery items that is alright. But like the roaches and the rats and you know what I mean that is why I want to get out of this house.”


Additionally, Nathaniel’s home is not equipped with a restroom. He explained that he showers at the front door. He relieves himself in disposable plates that he then discards in the nearby garbage.  The disabled elderly man does not own a mattress or a bed to sleep on. At night, he gets whatever rest he can, sitting upright inside this worn, rusty wheelchair.


Gilbert Nathaniel

“Before Lisa, the Wednesday, my sister sent money. She sent two to three hundred dollars only because ih tek long. So, she told me to curtail on money, slow down, especially like how things expensive now. This is the thing that always detests me, unu need to get atta these business people, too expensive. Right at the corner of West Street that one.”


Paul Lopez

“Do you still get assistance from sister right now?”


Gilbert Nathaniel



Paul Lopez

“How often?”


Gilbert Nathaniel

“A few months once in a while, as the money done. Back in 2020 my next relative, from the Belize Assemblies of Persons with Diverse Disabilities deh mih come, groceries and deh never bring nuh money but they bring groceries.”


Kenrick Theus, the President of the Belize Assembly of Persons with Diverse Abilities says Gilbert Nathaniel’s living condition is a glaring example of society’s neglect for persons living with disabilities. The Ministry of Human Development is currently in the process of improving its disability policies. However, Theus contends that this vulnerable population is not actively involved in the drafting of those policies.


Kenrick Theus

Kenrick Theus, President, BAPDA

“I want to go to a meeting where you are telling me that you have set out these policies, this is where the money is coming from, these are who are affected and this is how we are going to help them. I am not going to go around a table and sit there for a whole day and talk about the plight of the disabled, what type of advocacy work we are doing and a disability policy that we have not seen. So for me that is wrong, if you are drafting a policy for the disabled, the disabled must be included in the drafting of that policy.”


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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