Around the globe, broadcasters celebrated International Children’s Day of Broadcasting to drive home the point that every child has the right to express his or her opinion freely and to be heard. Here at this station, two teens were invited on set to host Open Your Eyes and later in the day, Axia Sanchez, teamed up with Isani Cayetano for tonight’s story which deals with the challenges of one student to complete primary school studies.
“Today is being celebrated as International Children’s Day of Broadcasting. Hi I’m Axia Sanchez and today’s feature story highlights the struggles of one inner city student to pursue his education despite the many obstacles in his way. Meet thirteen year old Leroy Brown, a standard six student of Muslim Community School in Belize City.”
Leroy Brown, Student, Muslim Community Primary School
“I want to be like my father. My father was a policeman at Jamaica and he left and he come to Belize here.”
“What is your relationship like with your father? It would seem as though you look up to him a great deal. Talk to us about your relationship here at home with your dad.”
“It is very good because my father always tells me ‘Learn to dance ah yard before you go abroad’. That means learn your respect at home before you go out in the street do bad.”
…and that’s the mantra young Leroy has learned to live by. Unlike many of us he has had to grow up in an environment where earning respect has taken him a long way. At home Leroy is faced with the difficulty of not always having his basic needs. He has had to enroll in a feeding program organized by Restore Belize to make it through school.
“Since starting the feeding program how have you benefited from the assistance you’ve received?”
“I was a little bit mad sir because when I went to the feeding program I came back at school and it was late.”
“And what happened?”
“I missed out some grades on Math and Social Studies.”
For Leroy it is a fine line between going hungry and staying in school. In his case the two usually compliment each other but with stern advice from his principal Leroy has committed himself to a quality education.
Lana Ahmad, Principal, Muslim Community Primary School
“Leroy is one of our unique cases because Leroy is an orphan. His mom has passed. He lives with his dad who is a, you know, a very elderly man and not too well health-wise. I understand his big brother lives with them which he tries to look out for Leroy but Leroy is practically on his own, you know, even though he lives with his dad who cares about him but because of the condition of the dad.”
Sixty-five year old Fitzroy Brown, the father of nine, is a well known local musician who moved to Belize from Jamaica in the late sixties. He’s been down on his luck for some time now.
Fitzroy Brown, Leroy’s Father
“There is good and there is bad but I’ll tell you brother. God stands by my side with my children them. I mean sometimes I have it a wee hard but not for too long.”
Finding hope in the face of despair is one of many lessons Brown has taught his children including Leroy. Their residence on Bridge Street in Port Loyola is without running water. It’s been that way since their two bedroom wooden house was erected with the help of the area representative.
“When I go to back the water my father helps me to wash the clothes so on Monday I can go to school with clean clothes.”
In class Leroy is attentive. He jots down notes as his homeroom teacher explains everything he needs to know about conductors and insulators. It’s part of his preparation for P.S.E. in May.
“Some of the work I cannot do so I go to the back class where my teacher sits and I try to ask her what I do not understand and my teacher tries to help me out with the work.”
“He says he wants to go on to high school and he is guaranteed a scholarship once he passes his P.S.E. and he’s accepted in a high school. He has been reassured that he will, everything will be covered for him.”
“Where do you want to go to high school?”
“I want to go to the A.C.C. high school.”
“He is an example to other children who are going through similar situation. You can overcome whatever obstacles in your life if you focus and you try to work towards that.”
Leroy’s story is a reminder for us to make the best of our opportunities because there are many who are not privileged.
“Reporting for News Five, on international Children’s Day of Broadcasting, I am Axia Sanchez.”
The National Committee for Families and Children invited other media houses to include children in their broadcast today.