Colleagues, Students, Members of the Board of Trustees, and Alumni of the University of Belize Community.
It is with deep sadness and profound concern that I am challenged to make sense of the untimely deaths of our two very promising students, Suzenne Martinez of San Ignacio and Norval Belisle, Jr. of Belmopan, who were taken from us within recent days. Our sympathies are with their parents and relatives as they seek, like we do, to ponder the senseless tragedies that have been inflicted upon our communities and the nation.
In recent years, the vulnerabilities of our youth have become increasingly evident in the violence that has become a marked feature of our lives. Suzenne and Norval were shining lights, excellent students, and in the full blush of youth. However, they did not escape the dilemma that confronts us all – how to rebuild a sense of the beloved community within which we could nurture ourselves and each other. We must recognize that the violence which took them from us is an expression of the social breakdown that must be overcome if we are to offer our youth a chance of leading lives that provides a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.
As we mourn the loss of Suzenne and Norval and share the grief of their families and friends, we should call to mind the very moving tribute to love and loss penned by the Guyanese poet, Martin Carter:
On behalf of the entire UB community, I extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families and friends as we all mourn the departure of two very promising souls. May they rest in peace.
My Hand In Yours
As in sleep, my hand in yours, yours in mine.
Your voice in my hearing and memory,
like the sound of stars as they shine,
not content with light only.
My fingertips walk on your face gently.
They tiptoe as a dream does away from sleep into waking.
In a tree somewhere a bird calls out.
And I wake up my hand still in yours,
in the midst of the sounds of stars and a far bird.
(Martin Carter, 1972)