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Jan 20, 1998

UNICEF helps young offenders

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The organization is more frequently associated with preventing abuse of children, promoting infant nutrition and advancing the rights of the child. But today UNICEF got involved with some older kids, who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

The UNICEF donation of woodworking tools to the Youth Enhancement Academy comes at a time when Y.E.A., still in its infancy, is trying hard to forge an identity in reforming young and first offenders.

Country Representative Rosemary Feith, says after completing all the projects on the calendar for 1997, UNICEF had just enough money left over, which was used to acquire the equipment, valued at roughly five thousand dollars.

Rosemary Fieth, Country Representative, UNICEF/Belize

“It seems such a good initiative to provide disciplinary basis for these young men, but with something more. Something more positive, teaching them, giving them education, teaching skills and although as I said earlier we hadn’t planned it, the fact that we still had some funds left over at the end of the year, this seems one of the best things we cold possibly have done with them.”

Nuri Mohammed, Director, Youth Enhancement Academy

“The major use of the equipment will be for education, for the youths who are going to be involved in the vocational part of this program. We will be using the tools for their learning, but the tools will also be used for the amount of work that we still have here to do on the barracks. There is a lot of refurbishing that is on going and these tools will play a role in assisting in this refurbishment that we have.”

But perhaps a more significant use for the equipment will be that of helping to develop the entrepreneurial skills of the inmates. Mohammed says technical help is on the way from London in starting up a program that will use prison labor to bring in funds, both for the institution and for the inmates.

Nuri Mohammed

“We’re not just putting them in a vocational setting so that they can learn slide rule or learn the square, or learn the hammer or the saw. We want to produce things which will be marketed and when the money is brought back in, a section of that money will be divided and placed in an account for these young people so that when they leave, they will be able to leave the institution with more than just pocket change, but they may, depending on how long they are here, be able to leave with something in their account.

Q: Nuri, I understand that in a couple of weeks you’re going to get some help with teaching skills to these young men here at Ladyville.

Yes, We are getting a V.S.O. representative and will be coming in, we’ve been successful in getting some help from the British High Commissioner, and a representative from the Volunteer Service Oversees, one who is skilled in wood technology will be joining the staff here at Youth Enhancement Academy and he will be the person responsible for running that shop that we talked about and which many of these tools will be in that location and he is not only going to be supervising that area but he will also be assisting us in the marketing of some of these products that come out.”

The V.S.O. trainer arrives next month on a two year posting and the first set of finished wood products should hit craft shops in Belize City shortly after. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

Ninety-one youthful offenders are currently housed at Ladyville, with a new intake of thirty-five due to arrive on Friday.

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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