“Peini” Punta Gorda, Toledo
Friday January 29th 2016
Quite often constituents as well as public officers, complain of being ignored or taken for granted after elections. In some cases that turns out to be true for the most part, but this UDP government is working diligently in demystifying that misguided conclusion. It is the rant of everyday Belizeans about public officers not being in the “real world.” However, the question that begs to be answered is, would we survive in the “real world” without the assistance of these same public officers? The public in general, every so often looks down upon these courageous people and believe they are omnipotent. It is mythological to believe that at the snap of a finger public officers could change the world. The very next time you want a passport, birth certificate, land title and all the other things that Public Officers provide, think about the daily pressures they endure.
Having been an educator at one point, the Honorable Frank “Papa” Mena knows what it is like to be a public officer. At the helm as the Minister of state with responsibility for the public service, he is very well tuned-in and knowledgeable of the predicament that this much maligned department continues to experience. Over the weekend, Friday January 29th, honorable Mena was on the road again, this time deep down south in “Peini” Punta Gorda. He was accompanied by his CEO in the Ministry of Public Service, Dr. Peter Allen, and Director of Human Resources Management in the Ministry of the Public Service Marcelino Choco; Public Service Union President, Eldrid Neal; Coordinator Employee Assistance Program, Shawn Vargas; Ministry of Health Nutritionist, Robin Daly and private consultant Cornelio Marfield. Honorable Mena back in November of 2015 visited Corozal and similarly to his northern tour, he was all ears in listening to the concerns of the Public Officers in the south.
The tour which is an initiative of the Employee Assistance Program with guidance from Ministry of Public Service CEO Dr. Peter Allen started at the Punta Gorda Police Department, with a baseline health check for the Public Servants. Honorable Mena was first to take the “hot seat” to be checked. He said, “Public office could be stressful at times. There are ills within the public service and you can’t function properly if you’re not healthy. This is why we are encouraging Public Officers to embrace this basic health check, to know where we are health wise.” The health checks included blood sugar and blood pressure tests, body mass index measurements, general health and nutrition advice plans and guidance.
Public officers were also offered the opportunity to join a regular exercise routine conducted by the Punta Gorda Police Detachment. As an incentive, Hon. Mena and his team will revisit Punta Gorda in approximately six months; bearing prizes for those officers and departments who have made the most significant improvements in the basic health indicators. The public officer with the best overall improvement will be offered a house lot in Punta Gorda.
In the visit to the Ministry of Works Compound, Mr. Mena was in his glory. “This is what I like, I want to meet with the people who are out beating the bushes. Don’t get me wrong, meeting the Public Officers in the various offices is exciting. They are all hard working people, but meeting with these gentlemen on the ground is what I enjoy most, these are the ones who are out here facing the elements. Sometimes we sit in Belmopan and don’t know what is going on in the field. Too many times we don’t see the forest we only see one tree “Ms. Angela Lino, the Finance Officer at Sub-Treasury said, “Connection is appreciated. It’s nice to have them visiting us.”
The team visited several offices, some of which included GST, Postal Service, Sub Treasury, Magistrates’ Court, Department of Human Services, Lands, Elections and Boundaries, Ministry of Works, Transport Department, and the Punta Gorda Hospital, and Polyclinic. The tour ended with a visit to the Customs and Immigration Department. Later in the evening, it all climaxed at the Garden of Eden with a social and karaoke competition. Melania Cayetano of the Ministry of Works Toledo and Marilyn Flowers of Department of Human Services took the championships quite easily out of a field of four singers. Tanya Smith a 2nd Class Clerk with the Transport Department said “It’s the first experience in my three years here with the department that I get to participate with a team of government officials in a social of this magnitude! It was nice! I really enjoyed it!”