The Peace Corps was initiated in 1971 in the United States to help Americans understand the world better, share their culture and to transfer needed skills and knowledge. The Peace Corps in Belize is currently working in conjunction with the Youth arm of SPEAR to promote HIV awareness. Both organizations are calling on youths to participate in a community clean up in Belize City this Sunday.
Heather Smith, Youth Development Peace Corps Volunteer
“Our big event coming up that we are very excited about is going to be this Sunday. It is a “We love our country cleanup campaign.” So Radical is inviting other youth groups in Belize to get together and meet each other and we are going to meet at ten o’clock in the morning this Sunday, the twenty-seventh of February, at the St. John’s Cathedral and then we will be going and cleaning up the area around Yarborough Cemetery and Park. So it’s going to be maybe a few hours long and we welcome anybody to join us—youths, families, anybody who wants to get involved and help make an impact in the community and then afterwards, we might have a little celebration and just talk about what it means to give back to our community. I’m a youth development volunteer so I am charged—a lot of it is going to be HIV/AIDS because that is a big problem in the youth community here in Belize. But also to help them just find ways of improving their own lives through self esteem and doing positive things for their community so that their futures look brighter. It can be through parenting classes, P.E. classes at a school—just doing different outreach and workshop for the youths here. So right now I’m working at the Society for the Promotion of Education Advocacy and Research (SPEAR) and they have a youth arm called RADICAL and we have one of the founding members who can come and talk to you a little more about RADICAL and what we are doing; that is my main project in Peace Corps right now.”
James Ruiz, Member of RADICAL, SPEAR
“RADICAL basically is a youth arm that was established to bring back life to what SPEAR was back then—like a youth version of what SPEAR does and what SPEAR was once before because SPEAR use to be very active in the community once. And RADICAL we are hoping to bring back that same energy, we are hoping to give youths a leadership opportunity to get up and do something. Some of the activities we plan to have youths engaged in is forums, documentaries, retreats and different workshops to get people active and open opportunities for our young generation here in Belize.”
“And now with Peace Corps, you are looking at HIV projects. What will the youths be doing?”
“Well youths along with the peace corps—well it was like a heaven sent from above I would say because I mean RADICAL was a new youth arm; we had a lot of trouble to start up and Peace Corps volunteer, Miss Heather, she came in and she really started help in organizing ourselves. In regards to HIV we are hoping to somehow incorporate a documentary in talking about how it affects youth, what are some of the certain risk factors that we face today in Belize.”
The Peace Corps are calling on other youth groups to help in a cleanup campaign this weekend around the city.