Well, here's one of the first female priests ordained in Belize; Reverend Lynda Moguel!
Reverend Lynda Carmita Moguel shares the celebrated historic spotlight of first female priest with Reverend Ilona Louise Smiling; both were ordained as Priests on May 15, 1999. This celebrated occasion followed a four-year course of studies at then newly established Anglican Theological Institute in Belize City where, for the first time, all training for the priesthood, including advanced theological training, was completed.
Reverend Lynda served as a Deacon at the Orange Walk St. Peter’s Church, St. Paul’s Church in Corozal and in Unitedville, Cayo. She has been Itinerant (travelling) Priest in churches countrywide. She has worked as Assisting Priest for St. John’s, All Saints and St. Mary’s and Priest in Charge for the River Mission and for the Belize District western group of churches (Hattieville, Gales Point, and Gracie Rock). Reverend Lynda is currently the Priest in Charge for St. Steven Church in Flowers Bank (Belize River Valley area).
Following her early education at St. Mary’s Primary school and St. Hilda’s College, Reverend Lynda started her teaching career in 1957 at St. Mary’s primary school. She has worked as a teacher at several levels of the education system, from primary to highschool and higher education levels. She received her professional teacher training at St. George’s Teachers’ College in Belize, Exeter University in London, University of Calgary at Alberta Canada and Western Kentucky University.
She has also been very engaged in social services from the early 1960s as a member of the Church’s Mothers Union and as a founding member of the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS), the Michigan Partners Alliance and the Belize Organization for Women and Development (BOWAND).
Reverend Lynda Moguel, born in the leap year of 1940, married Lewin Moguel in 1960 and became the mother of three sons and three daughters. She is the proud grandmother of thirteen.
This week Trailblazer Tuesday's looks at Tiffany Simpson, a young Belizean woman making her mark with technological inventions!
Tiffany Simpson, President of Belizean Artwork Publishing, has been designing educational software to guide Belizean and Caribbean students on their academic path since 2009. She is credited with the creation of Global Apps for Mobile Examination (GAME) Prep Software for the Belizean Primary School leaving Examination (PSE) and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). Tiffany has received relevant licenses to make her educational software available on Google Play and at the App store to increase client accessibility.
Tiffany is quickly becoming familiar with excitement and interest she is generating as a young entrepreneur. This interest has manifested in several awards in 2013. She was one of several winners of the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC). She participated in the 5th Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship in South Africa. She won one of seven cash awards from the Taiwanese government in Belize.
This young innovative entrepreneur hopes to extend the range of her outreach, setting her design sight on software creation to encompass the Belize Junior Achievement Test (BJAT) and regional and international post secondary education practice applications.
It's time for another Trailblazer Tuesdays feature and this week we're highlighting Dame Elaine Middleton, who has done more than her fair share for Belize!
Elaine Middleton was born in Belize City, the third child of Leolin and Elston Kerr Sr. At the age of four years, Elaine went to live with her Aunt Mrs. Ethel Marshall and her husband Mr. Dudley Marshall a senior Officer of the Belize Police Force.
After passing the necessary local examinations, Elaine began her teaching career at the Salvation Army School in Belize City. She later transferred to the Methodist Mission where she taught in various schools in Belize City, Gales Point, and in Dangriga Town. During these years of teaching Elaine continued her community work as a Girl Guide Captain, Youth leader and Sunday School Teacher. She was also one of the first 15 teachers to attend the Belize Teachers Training College.
In 1957, Elaine left the teaching profession to become a Probation Officer in the Social Development Department. This department was at that time responsible for all general Welfare work on behalf of families, Women and Youth work, Probation and Court work, Work with Village Councils and Disaster Relief work. She rose through the ranks in her department until she became the Head – the first woman to be made a Head of Department in the Belize Public Service. She initiated and developed many programs, including the expansion of the 4-H movement in Belize, and establishing the National 4-H Training Center at the National Agricultural Show Grounds in Belmopan. In this movement she promoted the expansion of an exchange program between Michigan, USA and Belize in the areas of 4-H and Home Economics.
Her compassion for the wellbeing of children led her to establish the Youth Development Center at Mile 22 on the Western Highway, a Residential training facility for boys 14-21 years, where they were taught agriculture, trade skills, and personal development. After establishing the boy’s center, Elaine went on to develop a Home Economics School in Belize City for young girls and a Home for girls with behavioral problems. She also founded the first Home for neglected children, now called the Dorothy Menzies Home in the Kings Park area in Belize City.
Because of her work and passion for women, she instituted the first Women’s Bureau, which has been expanded and upgraded to become the Women’s Department, in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation. Elaine forged on with determination to institute some of her other major work and programs which included work with the Village Councils, promotion of Rural Women’s Groups, Welfare and Court Work for Women and Children, and Disaster Relief throughout the country.
In 1981 Ms. Elaine left intact a well-developed Social Development Department to become the Director General of the Belize Red Cross. In this capacity, she worked to acquire new offices for the Belize Red Cross, which is now situated at Gabourel Lane and Handyside Street in Belize City today. She expanded the various programs at the Belize Red Cross, one of which has grown into the present day Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. A major part of her tenure as Director General was beginning the process of getting the Belize Red Cross recognized as an independent society.
In 1983 Ms. Elaine left her beloved Belize with her 3 young children, Yvette, Dean and Terese and husband Winston to live in Los Angeles, California. Once there, she dedicated her time to the welfare of her family. By now she was well known by Belizeans at home and abroad for her public service; therefore, she was sought out and became a member of the Consortium for Belizean Development and worked with other NGO’s committed to the improvement and welfare of Belizeans.
After watching her last child graduate from college in the US, she moved back to Belize in 1994 and was offered and accepted the position of Executive Director of the National Committee for Families and Children, (NCFC) from 1994-1998. In 2002 Elaine worked as a short term Consultant at UNICEF for the formation of a project “Towards a National Consensus on a Comprehensive Policy and Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents in Belize.
Through her hard work and perseverance, Elaine achieved numerous awards and grants from around the world: 1965 - Leadership Grant from the US Government to study Social Work Practices in the United States. 1976- Awarded Member of the British Empire by the Queen of England for her services to the Belizean people. 1998- Awarded the Dame Commander of the order of St. Michael and St. Johns (DCMG) (equivalent to Knighthood for men) from the Queen of England for her outstanding services to the Belizean people.
Today, Dame Elaine Middleton continues her unwavering work for the people of Belize as she served on the board of YWCA of Belize, as President from 2002 – 2009, as a member on the Board of Management of Wesley College in Belize City, and member of various committees in the Methodist Church.
She earned a Degree in Social Work Practice from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. , has an Associate of Preceptors degree from College of Preceptors in the United Kingdom, Diplomas in Social Welfare and Administration and Applied Social Studies from the University College of Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, and a Trained Teachers Certificate from the Belize Teachers Training College.
Trailblazer Tuesday's brings you Belize's first female architect Ms. Esther Ayuso!
Belize’s first trained female architect, Esther Josefina Ayuso , was received as a small bundle of joy to Belizean father Oscar Ayuso and his wife Josefina Ayuso nee Medero one late November morning in 1958 in Caracas, Venezuela. Her father returned to Belize with his young family and Esther settled into her Belizean life. She graduated from St. Catherine Academy eager to move her adult life forward. Training in her professional area of interest was not available to her in Belize so Esther went to Venezuela where she had family support and completed a five-year technical undergraduate degree in architecture at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas.
She attempted to find work in Belize but a lack of employment in her field resulted in her move back to Venezuela to start her career in 1983. Esther met and married a fellow architect and started her family in Venezuela but a military coup in 1992 provided the impetus for Esther and her family to return to the safety of Belize. Esther worked with Professional Engineering Services for three years following her return home then opened an architectural business with her husband. Hurricane Keith in 2000 totally destroyed her business and ushered Esther into another phase of her career. She started using her skills to monitor construction projects. The first of this was the Universal Health Services Hospital (Belize Healthcare Partners Limited). The most recent was the Inspiration Center which, Esther notes, was designed by a young Belizean female architect.
Esther’s architectural contributions are featured throughout Belize for private individuals and business establishments. One major architectural design was the extension of the Belize Medical Associates hospital. Other works include the remodeling, flow and extension of both Cleopatra White and Matron Robert polyclinics. Custom furniture and interior designs architecture are evident in the Hoy Eye Clinic, the main branch of Atlantic Bank and several of its branches throughout the country.
Belize’s first female architect is pleased to note an increase of women the field and dreams of the day when the fundamental courses for this field will be taught in secondary schools to better prepare young people, particularly women, for the field of architecture and other architectural related areas.