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Tell Me My Chances Print E-mail
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Written by By Thamar Jones   
Thursday, 07 September 2017 00:00

South Side Belize City, the very bleakest part of our country which also happens to be our most densely populated- here jutting zinc fences enclose clustered decrepit homes; abandoned lots can be seen, overgrown with weeds and infested by critters. Jobs are hard to come by, and children often go to school hungry. The depth of poverty here is not known by many.

Although Southside Belize City appears to be where it is concentrated, poverty in Belize is by no means quarantined within this area. It seeps in varying degrees throughout. However, for a long time, the depth of poverty in which some Belizeans live, was unbeknownst to me; that is up until very recently when I began to work in some of the challenged areas of Belize City, alongside Dion Leslie, a man who believes he has a vision to improve Quality of Life here for the people.

Many of the people in these poverty stricken neighborhoods grew up poor, their parents were poor and their children are likely to be poor, too. It is a part of the vicious cycle of poverty. Without some major shift or reform, kids born into poverty are likely to remain there for their whole lives. With little to no statistics from Belize to confirm what we already know to be true, I’ll refer to one study done in The United States of America which found that 42 percent of African Americans born into the lowest-income category remained there as adults- and this is despite the promise of the American Dream. In Belize, I suppose, we can expect similar outcomes.

Impoverished and economically stagnant communities, are just a small part of the issues we face as a country. With September celebrations gearing up, and patriotism and national pride welling up inside all of us, I can’t help but wonder- is there anything I can do as a youth to improve the Life Chances and Quality of Life for myself and my fellow Belizeans and in the process make Belize a place we can truly be proud of?

Life chances is a Social Science theory of the opportunities each individual has to improve their Quality of Life. The concept was introduced by German sociologist Max Weber. It is a probabilistic concept, describing how likely it is, given certain factors, that an individual’s life will turn out a certain way. According to this theory, life chances are positively correlated with one’s socioeconomic status.

Opportunities in this sense refer to the extent to which one has access to resources, both tangible ones such as food, clothing and shelter, and intangible ones such as education and health care. Life chances comprise the individual’s ability to procure goods, have a career and obtain inner satisfaction; in other words, the ability to satisfy one’s needs.

Inequality of opportunity is an issue. Not only is it unfair, preventing many from reaching their potential; it also holds back national prosperity, as talent goes untapped. Ideally as a nation, we want people from all backgrounds to have access to high quality education, family and community learning, so that they can then develop the skills necessary to make a positive contribution to the community.

The challenge of citizens living quality lives is one that requires a holistic and longitudinal strategy. It requires multiple facets to be working in tandem: Education, Healthcare, Justice, Employment and Economic Opportunities etc.

But while that strategy is being envisioned by those with a zeal to improve lives like Mr. Leslie, and other men and women in politics and governance, we cannot afford to wait for our life chances to one day improve. We must take the chances we’ve got now and fight like hell to break the status quo. Though our chances be compromised, they are not obsolete. For you to be successful you must develop the attitude and skills to change and even create your desired circumstances.