Friday February 19th 2016
Unfortunately, the youth of today has been blacklisted when it is only a minority of young people who are creating social disruption. Most youths are motivated and long to do well in everything they do, which means they could play a very important role in politics. To begin with, young people have different perceptions and a host of different ideas. By allowing them to voice their opinion, doors could be opened in propelling the Belizean political world forward. This is not only good for the Belizean society, but necessary for society on a whole.
Which brings us to the National Youth Council, a youth governance body that aims to speak on behalf of the youths of Belize. Today rallies were held across the country in preparation for election of District Youth Presidents, Vice Presidents, Treasurers, Secretaries and Public Relations Officers come Monday February 29th, 2016. Here in Dangriga, it all started off with a march from the Drums of Our Fathers Monument to BTL Princess Royal Park. Stann Creek West UDP Standard Bearer Walter Garbutt, one of the three keynote speakers, was first in addressing the crowd and the 21 potential candidates. Garbutt said, “Youths are indeed the future. It’s not just a cliché, you are indeed the future and for those who are looking for a leadership role, look around you. Look in your community and you will identify some great leaders. To be a good leader you need to have patience.”
Each candidate contesting the election took to the podium and spoke to a crowd of approximately 100 people. Some read from prepared scripts, while others were bold enough to address the crowd unscripted. Most people don’t get the opportunity to speak at gatherings; and it was evident that some of the candidates weren’t really ready for this. At the onset, some appeared visibly shaken, but soon regained their composure and delivered their speech like seasoned politicians. The Department of youth Services in a social media post said, “It is time! For too long we have wanted young people to have a voice and make a change in our country. We will form a body that will represent young people at a national level. First we need to form District Councils. This is very important for all young persons to know.”
The Honorable Frank “Papa” Mena, Minister of State with responsibility for the Ministry of Public Service, Energy and Public Utilities in addressing the gathering and the candidates said, “Look within yourselves to take our country forward. The easiest thing to do is sit and do nothing, but you have chosen to put your name on a ballot. We talk about change and what is going wrong, but we don’t participate in the process. As young people you should be more active and I can see that many of you have taken the lead in becoming active in the process.”
Ruth Virula, a candidate for the vice presidency said, “As youths we are sometimes short changed and viewed as a generation of slackers and advocates of low self-esteem. We are not taking charge in becoming responsible and grasping the numerous opportunities that are available to us. It is high time that we are recognized as contributors to a greater society and not the social media misfits that we have often been wrongly identified as.” Meanwhile, 23 year old presidential candidate Jamal Swaso in his address said, “The desire to seek betterment for this district has no limit. It is my will to assist others and it is my motivation to represent our district that drives me. While campaigning and going through the list of registered groups, I was surprised at the level of inactivity. If these groups are revived, most of the problems that we face today as youths can be resolved.”
The last of the scheduled keynote speakers was educator, radio talk show host and social activist Ms. Ifasina Efunyemi who said, “I applaud you for rising to the challenge of youth leadership. I encourage you to be at your best and continue to improve yourselves as youth leaders. You should also lead others to leadership and change the way leadership is done in Belize.
A few other candidates presented their speeches and the rally concluded with messages of gratitude and encouragement from the Department of Youth Services personnel. Elections for the National Youth Council are slated for Monday February 29th, 2016.