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Trailblazing Women of Belize

Posted By: Marty

Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/24/14 07:41 PM

Since Tuesday, April 8, the Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children has featured a special lady on its Facebook page each week. The initiative is being called “Trailblazer Tuesday” and according to the Special Envoy it is an extension of the Women's Empowerment Campaign started by the office with the 20,000 Strong Rally on March 6.

The Facebook page is Special Envoy Belize and three women have been featured since the launch of Trailblazer Tuesdays. Those women are Mrs. Marie Sharp, Mrs. Sandra Bedran and Mrs. Rossana Briceño. They are featured on the page along with their photo and information about the accomplishments that make them worthy of recognition as trailblazers. A new trailblazer will be featured every Tuesday and the general public is encouraged to nominate female trailblazers from their community. Nominations can be made by emailing the Office of the Special Envoy at specialenvoybelize@gmail.com or messaging the Facebook page at Special Envoy Belize. A trailblazer according to the Office of the Special Envoy is a woman who has “defied great odds to excel in her professional career or in politics; given selflessly as community activists; overcome the hardships of parenthood to provide the best for their children or led the way in non-traditional roles and set great examples for our girls”.

The Guardian Newspaper has joined the campaign to celebrate the accomplishments of trailblazing women of Belize and will be featuring the weekly hero posted on Trailblazer Tuesdays. Here are the Trailblazers for April 8th, April 15th and April 22nd.

April 8th:
Mrs. Marie Sharp is one of Belize’s hottest ladies. She graduated from High School in 1958 and passed the Senior Cambridge exams; at this time there were no Universities in Belize. Before starting her own company in 1981, Mrs. Sharp worked as a teacher in the Elementary Schools for six years after which she worked for the Citrus Company of Belize for ten years ending up as an Executive Secretary. In 1988 with the help of U.S. AID and Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Sharp attended Clemson University and pursued a course in Food Packaging. In August of 2000 with the help of the Government of Belize, Mrs. Sharp did a course at Samorano in Honduras on Food Processing and undertook a course at BIM in Belize on "Starting and Managing a Small Business". With the help of Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica and Barbados, Mrs. Sharp was able to undertake several courses on Marketing and Good Manufacturing Practices. In her words, “I had to grasp everything that was offered to help me in my venture. I tell everyone that I am a graduate from the UNIVERSITY OF HARD KNOCKS.” This year Marie Sharp’s Fine Foods will be 33 years old. Her products are exported internationally and include places like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India, China, Germany U.K. Canada, U.S.A. Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras. The fiery lady hopes to extend her product lines to Ireland, Dubai, Lebanon, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.


April 15th:
Mrs. Sandra Bedran is the first female to serve in general management positions at the Belize Marketing Board, DFC and Atlantic Bank. She continues to be the only female Managing Director of a commercial bank in Belize. Over the years, Mrs. Bedran has served on numerous boards and committees. She was the first female invited to be a Rotarian and has served as Assistant Rotary Governor, Rotary President and as a member of the board. She has also served many years on both the Mercy Clinic and Mercy Kitchen BOD. Mrs. Bedran holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business administration and an Executive Masters in Banking. She is married to Amir Bedran and they have three daughters, Nazle, Bridget and Chandra.


April 22nd:
Mrs. Rossana Briceño is the Principal at St. Peter’s Anglican School in Orange Walk Town; one of the few schools in Belize that offers special education classes. Mrs. Briceño holds a Master’s Degree in educational leadership and has been in the teaching profession for over 25 years. Her first teaching job was at Stella Maris. Her passion is working with special needs students and underprivileged children. Her works includes expanding the Special-ed Center in Orange Walk which now boasts a remedial program at the school. She has lobbied on behalf of the feeding program and continues to fundraise for its sustainability. The feeding program feeds 55 students every day! Mrs. Briceño has made education easier by providing an annual scholarship for a lucky young lady to attend high school. This exemplifies her passion for the empowerment of women through education. Her works have not gone unnoticed. This year, Mrs. Briceño is a nominee for the Outstanding School Leader award in Orange Walk. With her diligent work, St. Peter’s Anglican School has risen from the bottom of the list to one of the most improved schools in Orange Walk and in the Anglican Management.




INTRODUCING TRAILBLAZER TUESDAYS!

As an extension of our Women's Empowerment Campaign, every Tuesday we will be featuring a different Belizean woman who has excelled whether it be in her professional career, as a community activist, as a parent, in politics as well as in non-traditional roles. If you know of local trailblazers in your community who should be highlighted, feel free to send us their information so they can be recognized on Trailblazer Tuesdays!

CLICK HERE!

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/30/14 08:02 PM

Hon. Sylvia Flores is Special Envoy’s Trailblazer of the Week

It's time for another Trailblazer Tuesdays feature! This week we present to you, Mrs. Sylvia Flores:

Sylvia Flores should be well-known to you. She is a former Minister of Defence and National Emergency Management as well as a former Minister of Human Development and Women. In 1988, representing the People’s United Party, she was appointed the first woman Mayor of Dangriga and was subsequently elected to serve a second term.

In 1998, Mrs. Flores became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. Among other responsibilities, she was tasked with maintaining the Standing Orders and Parliamentary Procedures amongst representatives who were not always particularly well behaved—and 27 of the 29 were men! She also served Belize as President of the Senate.

In the General Elections of 2003, she became the first woman elected as the representative from Dangriga. It was then that she was named as Minister of Defence and National Emergency Management. As Defence Minister, she secured additional funding and support for the Belize Defence Force and partnered with the U.S. Embassy to strengthen national security and drug eradication. In 2005, she was named Minister of Human Development and Women.

As the Minister with primary responsibility for women’s rights, she made immense contributions in areas of women’s advancement and gender equality and was instrumental in revising the Domestic Violence Act, which assesses stiffer penalties for perpetrators of violence against women and girls.

After retiring from public service, she returned to Dangriga, and her first love, teaching. Mrs. Flores taught Spanish at the Stann Creek Ecumenical High School and Economics at the junior college for a total of twenty-six years. She also taught both Spanish and English for five consecutive years, for free, when the management of Delille Academy had no funds to pay teachers. Besides teaching, she also raised funds to enable girls to attend classes and meet the cost of books. She was recognized in 2013 as Belize’s Woman of the Year by the Embassy of the United States. Mrs. Flores will be the first to tell you, that there’s no greater joy than helping young women to realize their potential and be independent women.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/08/14 10:59 PM

This week's trailblazer is a little late but here's a look at the accomplishments of Mrs. Faith Babb!

Mrs. Faith Babb’s political career is best defined not by the office she once held, but rather the journey that led her to it. She was exposed to politics in her early childhood by attending political meetings with her patriotic grandparents. She became a member the UDP in her teenage years and has worked her way through the ranks of the party from foot soldier to a decision maker in the Party’s Central Executive Committee as National Director of Women. She later, along with other women, formed the UDP – National Organization of Women which certainly helped to propel her to become a candidate for National Election.

Mrs. Babb is the first UDP woman elected to the National Assembly and the first woman to serve as Area Representative for the Collet Division. She was also the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and was appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development, Woman Affairs and Youth in the UDP Administration of 1993-1998. She served as acting Minister, responsible for this portfolio on many occasions, and was eventually upgraded to being a Minister.

She was able to achieve many projects designed to improve the lives of many in the community, especially in the Collet Division. Under her leadership as Minister of State, she led the Belizean Delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt in 1994, and to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing China in 1995. Mrs. Babb served as the Principal Delegate to the Inter-American Commission of Women and signed on behalf of the Government of Belize the Convention-Belem do Para, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women.

She was the Chairperson of the National Committee for Families and Children and during her tenure was able to get the Families and Children’s Act and the Sexual Harassment Act passed into law.

Mrs. Babb endorsed many initiatives such as the Youth Start Plan that benefited young people the National Youth Commission, National Youth Award and the National Youth Policy. She is currently the Coordinator of the Collet Education and Resource Center in the Collet Division.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/15/14 11:03 PM

It's time to highlight another great Belizean woman on Trailblazer Tuesdays! This week we feature Mrs. Pearl Stuart.

Mrs. Pearl Stuart, born in Dangriga Town, spent her teen years in Belize City where she started her secondary education at St. Catherine’s Academy and completed it at West Philadelphia Catholic High School in the United States, placing second honors in a school of 8000 students. Mrs. Stuart graduated from Holy Family College with a major in education. Her first job was as a 4th grade (Standard II) teacher in United States elementary school – Our Lady of Victory in Philadelphia.

She was the wife of the first Honorary Counsel (unpaid, part time), Paul Warren and supported his work in facilitating Los Angeles based Belizeans and visitors to Belize. This work was done out of their home. The support was provided because of the large number of Belizeans who had settled in the California area.

In August 1993, Mrs. Stuart was invited by then Foreign Minister, Dean Barrow, to become the first Counsel General in Los Angeles. Within two months the first Diplomatic Contingent arrived in Los Angeles. This ‘baptism by fire’ experience was a herculean task that did not daunt Pearl in the least. She successfully held meetings with US Secret Service personnel, necessary vetting and set up an office in anticipation of Ministers of Government that included then Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel and then Minister Philip Goldson. The Consulate provided services to Belizeans and visitors in the western states of California, Las Vegas and Arizona.

Pearl Stuart served as the Executive Director of the National Committee for Families and Children from 2008-2013 and is now the Committee Chairperson. She resides in Belize City with her husband, Mr. Glenville Stuart. Mrs. Stuart has three daughters and four stepchildren, seven grandchildren and seven step grandchildren.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/22/14 06:15 PM

This week's Trailblazer Tuesday features a woman we all have fond memories of, an icon in Belizean culture! Mrs. Beverly Smith Lopez (1957-2002)

At the tender age of nineteen, Beverly Smith Lopez diversified Belize’s artistic scope by becoming the “First lady of Comedy”, the first National Drama Coordinator. In 1957, Beverly was born to Earl and Hazel Smith. She attended Belize Pallotti High School. She later attained a scholarship to Santa Clara University in Northern California and graduated in 1991 with a Bachelors degree in Theatre. Beverly’s acting debut was her performance of her hit monologue – BELIZEAN GOSSIP at the Square Peg Players at Carifesta 1976 in Jamaica, which quickly raised her popularity.

By 1977, she was internationally known as Belize’s “First lady of Comedy”. With this beloved title, she represented this country at various international festivals such as Carifesta 1979 in Cuba, Carifesta 1981 in Barbados and Commonwealth Festivals in Edmonton, Canada and Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1991 she received the Charles Lampkin Award for outstanding stage performance at Santa Clara University. Her senior acting recital was said to be one of the most powerful the university had ever seen.

Beverly lays claim to credit for the emergence of drama programs all over the country, from school-rooms to jail cells, Beverly did it all with agility and zeal. As a part of her life work to nurture Belizean culture through the performing arts, she paved the way for the first National Music and Dance coordinators, and in the midst of all her success, Beverly wedded Andrew Lopez and had one son, Troy. Beverly Smith Lopez upheld her title of Director of Culture since 1994 until her death on October 9, 2002.

Mrs. Lopez is commemorated as an actress, dramatist, comedienne, educator, and administrator and more importantly, Beverly Smith-Lopez was a uniquely Belizean personality

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/29/14 09:20 PM

This week's trailblazer made waves in one of the most important areas of a nation's development; education!
Ms. Sadie Vernon (1918-2008)

No truer words were spoken of Sadie Vernon than a 1983 description of her as an “advocate for the voiceless and the powerless.” Sadie had no idea that the outcome of her 1963 proposal writing efforts would result in a permanent home for twenty-five times as many girls and boys in similar situations to those of the four mothers who first sought her help more than three decades earlier. On September 6th 1999 a ceremony was held to rename the Belize Continuation School Sadie Vernon High School.

Sadie started the institution in 1964 in the borrowed spaces of the YWCA. After they ran out of space at the YWCA they moved first to the Catholic Extension building and then to a leased space on Dean Street in 1994 before a permanent space was secured for the now Sadie Vernon High School at the end of that decade. Almost a quarter century after Sadie had begun the Belize Continuation School she established the high school preparatory institution ‘Friends Boys School’.

In practical terms Sadie was an educator, nurse, counselor, missionary, grant writer and administrator. She was born March 20, 1918 to Elsa Agatha Maheia Vernon and Frederick Vernon. Sadie began her schooling at the Shepherd School, a kindergarten operated by St. John’s Church, before going to her aunt’s private school (Ms. Annette’s private school) and the Diocesan High School (St. Hilda’s College/Anglican Cathedral College). She completed high school and worked for a little while before she left then British Honduras with a group of missionaries for a life of experiences in the Caribbean and the United States. When Sadie assumed the duties of Executive Secretary of the Christian Social Council in 1963 all the training, skills and experiences she had acquired in her ten year hiatus came into full use in Belize. Sadie Vernon passed away in December 2008 at the age of 90 but her legacy lives on!

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 06/11/14 11:30 AM

Trailblazer Tuesdays brings you another great Belizean woman who has contributed significantly to the country's education system.

Dr. Cynthia Eve Aird is an accomplished and dedicated educator. She worked for 18 years in tertiary education as a Teacher Educator at the University of Belize and at Galen University and is now President and Principal Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio.

Dr. Aird has served as Chair of the Association of Tertiary Level Institutions in Belize (ATLIB) for 3 terms, and Co-Chair of the Consortium on Belize Education Cooperation (COBEC), a group of Belizean and US universities and community colleges working for the improvement of education in Belize.

She is also a member of the Belize Board of teacher Education (BBTE). Dr. Aird researches quality assurance issues in higher education in developing countries, and, as the Chair of ATLIB, is working with other partners in the field to develop a National Higher Education Policy and to improve tertiary level education in general within Belize. She has presented on these themes locally and internationally.

Dr. Aird is also member of the Rotary Club of San Ignacio in District 4250. She has been involved in a supportive capacity with the Belize Literacy Project since its inception, and is now the Chair of the Belize committee.

Dr. Aird holds a M.Ed. in Secondary English Education from the University of New Brunswick, Canada where she was a Canadian Commonwealth Scholar, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction and Administration with a minor in Higher Education from Boston College where she was a Fulbright Scholar.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/18/14 08:09 PM

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.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/24/14 08:10 PM

Kaina Martinez is Trailblazer of the Week

This week's feature is on a young Belizean athlete who has made us proud countless times and is currently in Scotland to represent Belize once again in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Kaina Martinez, known to many as Kaina Arzu, is a well-known accomplished Belizean athlete; both locally and internationally. She was born in Independence Village, Stann Creek District and was raised in Seine Bight by her single mother who never failed to teach her the importance of building character and being a good citizen. Kaina's love for sports dates back as far as 1999 when she attended the St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Primary School and participated in the 4th National Primary School Sport Championships. She was a part of the 1999-2000 National Primary School Volleyball, Basketball, Softball and Football champions. Here history was made as St. Alphonsus was the first Primary school to win all four national championships in one year. That year, Kaina was awarded MVP (Most Valuable Player) for both basketball and softball. She went on to Independence High School where she continued in her love for sport and represented her school on numerous occasions.

While she excels in various sporting disciplines, Kaina focuses primarily on track and field. Belize’s own local track star is presently the Central American 100 meter and 200 meter record holder and was also 2010 champion in the Central American Games. Kaina has represented Belize in many countries including, India, Korea, Brazil, London and all of Central America, just to mention a few. In the past ten years, she has competed in the Central American and Caribbean games, world championships, Central American championship and the Olympics, which is one of the world’s highly anticipated games. Kaina is now in Glasgow, Scotland to represent Belize in The Commonwealth Games 2014, which started on Wednesday, July 23rd.

Kaina has received several awards among them are some prestigous honors including “Outstanding Young Belizean” by the Ministry of Education and Sports 2004, she received the Youth in Sports award twice, a certificate for community service from NOPCAN and the Sports Star Award among others.

Kaina has seen sports as a key driver on life’s road to success; she believes it builds character, determination, self-discipline self-motivation and has made her a courageous achiever who is willing to go beyond limitations. Having learned these and many other attributes, Kaina is now using sports as a catalyst to help as many young people in her community and hopes to reach out to many other young Belizeans through her summer break track and field camp games (KMTCG).

Kaina is a member of the Belize Coast Guard and was appointed an Officer Cadet in 2012. She holds an Associate’s Degree from the University of Belize. In January of December 2013, Kaina was granted a full scholarship to attend Texas A&M University in Kingsville Texas where she is presently working on a Bachelor’s in Speech Communication. She is an honour student and a track star as record holder for her school as well as the winner of Cactus Cup. She is also the All Star Conference Champion in the 100m and 200m. She is Belize’s 100m record holder and looks forward to take the 200m record.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/07/14 08:34 PM

It's Trailblazer Tuesday! Today we celebrate the arts and the first Artistic Director of the Belize National Dance Company, Ms. Althea Sealy.

Althea Sealy, born to Cutbert Sealy and Mitt Smith on December 26, 1960 in Belize City, is renowned for her love of and dedication to the arts. Unknowingly, Althea earned her place among outstanding Belizean female firsts when she became the first Artistic Director of the Belize National Dance Company (BNDC) in October 1990.

Althea Sealy has been dancing since she was eight years old, starting with the late Bob Reneau in the 1960s and 1970s. While her academic training was completed at Holy Redeemer primary school and Wesley College, she travelled regionally and internationally for her professional training in the USA, Cuba and Jamaica. She trained under the late talented Professor Eduardo Rivera of the National Dance Theatre of Santiago de Cuba.

“For the love of dance and country” may be the best way to describe the contribution of Althea Sealy over the past two decades in her volunteer role as Artistic Director. Her dance career has evolved through various leadership roles in several dance groups, including Creative Dancers. Today she leads a company that creates and choreographs an array of dances that reflects the essence and diversity of Belize. Under her direction the creations have included modern, classical, folk and interpretive dance that depict many social issues such as HIV, cancer, domestic violence, street crimes and others.

As Artistic Director, Althea’s responsibilities include decision making, event planning, and productions as well as development of short and long term plans for this nonprofit artistic group. Her most important future role is the transitioning of the BNDC in the 21st century to continue to grow and reflect the culture of Belize in all its relevant essence and diversity. She looks forward to the celebration of the BNDC’s 25th anniversary in 2015. This anniversary coincides with her own twenty-five years of service as Artistic Director.

Althea Sealy is the proud mother of two adult daughters who have amplified her joy with her teenage grandson and preschool granddaughter. Althea has one brother and one sister.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/15/14 11:02 AM

This week, Trailblazer Tuesdays brings you Belize's First Female President of the Senate

Born to Victoria Herera and Solomon Cayetano in 1943, Doris June Tomasa Garcia nee Cayetano grew up to attend Sacred Hearth Primary, Austin High and then completed agricultural training in Honduras. As a small farmer she was once a member of the Citrus Growers Association.

Doris June exited her realm of comfort and successfully ran for a seat on the Dangriga Town Council in 1983. She dared to be bold and decided to challenge to be the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) 1984 General Elections standard bearer for the Dangriga constituency. She lost this challenge.

Although she was unsuccessful, Garcia’s loss opened the door to a whole new possibility. The UDP Prime Minister, Manuel Esquivel, offered a once in a lifetime opportunity for her to be the first woman to hold the position of President of the Senate in 1984. She accepted this invitation and successfully served from December 21, 1984 to July 31, 1989. Success in this eminent role was possible because of all support of the Clerk of Court and other mentors around her.

Doris June is a proud Dangrigan with a history of the past and a front seat to the present and future of her community. She continues to play an active role as unofficial historian in the Dangriga constituency of her UDP party.

Doris June spends her retirement days enjoying her two sons and three daughters. She acknowledges the significant contribution of her mother and grandmother in her life. Her mother was very instrumental in rearing her children and this allowed her to become a success as a wife, mother, farmer and politician.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/28/14 09:09 PM

This week Trailblazer Tuesday features a very familiar face; Ms. Ann-Marie Williams.

Ann-Marie Williams will forever be remembered as the intrepid journalist who first exposed Belize’s biggest Immigration/Passport Scandal in 2002 and won her and Channel 5 a Caribbean Broadcasting Union Award (CBU) for Best Investigative Journalism.

The first girl and the middle child of six children, it seems journalism was a natural progression for Ann-Marie. She started working as a young announcer at 17 years old at the lone Radio Station at the time, Radio Belize. She was a quick study and had a meteoric rise in broadcasting having received training to read the major newscasts less than six months on the job. She also produced several programs, among them Women’s World and Fun Time.

In 1988 she was the first to win the Edison Coleman Award for Best Program Production. She completed a Diploma in Mass Communications/Journalism (First Class Hons) from CARIMAC at UWI and went on to do excellent work in Radio, TV and Print. Ann-Marie was among the first set of news anchors who read the nightly news on Channel 3, at Radio Belize and then at Channel 5, in addition to covering the beat. In 2003, she also edited the weekly Reporter Newspaper and broke several stories in the process. A woman of many talents and firsts, she started the newscast on KREM Radio in 1995 where she single-handedly gathered, wrote and read the news for a year.

While she feels that journalism is the best career, she never did her post graduate studies in that area. Instead, Ann-Marie pursued her other love—women ‘s advancement. She graduated from the prestigious Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the UK in 2000 with a Master’s Degree in Gender and Development. She returned home, went back to Channel 5 to continue her investigative work and in 2002 she blew the Immigration/Passport Scandal, story straight out of the water.

In 2008 she took up her other passion. She became the first Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission (NWC). Williams turned around the work and profile of the NWC. Her leadership at the policy advisory body to GOB on issues affecting women brought about the first of its kind Women in Politics Project which has trained 98 women for politics with incremental success. In 2011, she was the first Belizean to receive the Women in Public Service Award (the Hillary Clinton Award) as part of a group of 50 women from among 250 nominated by former U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Vinai Thummalapally.

Williams serves both the YWCA and Partners of the Americas as a board member. She holds fast her Methodist faith and serves her Church in many capacities. This divorced mother of a U.S. Marine would like to be remembered as someone who always gave her very best, without fear or favour.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/06/14 10:57 AM

Trailblazer Tuesdays proudly presents Belize's First Governor General, Dame Elmira Minita Gordon!

Dame Elmira Minita Gordon became Belize’s first Governor General and the Queen’s representative when Belize got its political independence in 1981. The independent Belize’s constitution allows for a Belizean citizen to be appointed by the Queen, on the advice of ministers in Belize, to be her in-country representative with day-to-day executive powers. Dame Minita held this highly esteemed position for twelve years.

Born and raised in Belize City, Elmira Minita began her education at St. John’s Girl’s School and St. Mary’s Primary. Her professional education was done locally at St. George’s Teacher’s College and enhanced with a course from the College of Preceptors, Oxford, England. She pursued postgraduate education at universities of Nottingham and Birmingham in England, the University of Calgary in Alberta Canada and the University of Toronto, Canada. Minita became Belize’s first Belizean trained psychologist when she returned to Belize in 1980.

Dame Minita has many interests and many achievements. She was a passionate member of the girl guides from 1946 and once held the position of District Commissioner of the Girl Guides. She became a Justice of the Peace in 1974 and received lifetime membership of the British Red Cross in 1975. Her feats have graced the pages of Belizean history and are a shining example for many aspiring, hardworking women.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/13/16 05:22 PM

BELIZE'S WONDER WOMEN! The Women Who Help Make Belize Great!

Last month we announced that each month we will highlight individual stories of Belizean women from all parts of Belize doing their part to make this country great.

To kickoff this campaign our first Belize Wonder Woman will be none other than Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow!!!

Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, wife of the Prime Minister and Special Envoy for Women & Children.

Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow is the wife of the Prime Minister of Belize, the Right Honorable Dean Barrow and Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children and Global Ambassador for Special Olympics since 2008 as well as the Founder and Director of the Lifeline Foundation, which raises thousands of dollars annually to aid disenfranchised children. Her two major projects as Special Envoy for Women and Children are a Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit constructed at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and The Inspiration Center which offers healthcare and therapy for children with disabilities.

Her efforts to raise public awareness on the commercial sexual exploitation of children includes successfully advocating for the passage of two pieces of legislation to strengthen protection for victims of sexual violence and human trafficking as well as an amendment to the Criminal Code for harsher penalties for perpetrators of sexual offences. Mrs. Simplis Barrow has co-written two booklets on sexual abuse prevention and produced multi-lingual educational videos. She has also hosted national conferences on ending commercial sexual exploitation of children and ending all violence against children. She later produced a Children’s Rights Activity Book entitled Having Fun with Rights. In her efforts to improve the situation of women entrepreneurs in Belize, Mrs. Simplis Barrow focus groups and consultations countrywide and hosted the National Call to Action Conference on Women and Girls’ Financial Health as well as a global First Ladies Conference in New York. Under the 20,000 STRONG Women’s Empowerment campaign, two national rallies were held to uplift women and in 2016, the event was used to unveil the 20-4-20 Women’s Economic Development Program.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/05/16 06:34 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Margarita Mena

We recently announced that each month we will highlight individual stories of Belizean women from all parts of Belize doing their part to make this country great. For the month of May we are proud to annouce that Mrs. Margarita Mena is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Margarita Mena started “KLIC” (Kids Learning Imagining Creating) in her backyard patio for community preschoolers. Her school has grown in attendance is such a way she built a classroom in her backyard. Her teachings are much diversified and include field trips throughout Belize to teach her students about the beautiful country of Belize. She always has parties to celebrate holidays and to teach her students the meanings behind the holidays. Margarita makes learning fun for her students. Margarita has always gone above and beyond to help one and all without any hesitation. Her willingness to help others is one of her most outstanding qualities. Her latest accomplishment was participating in the 2016 La Ruta Maya. She is a fearless competitor and never gives up.

U.S. Embassy Belize


Belize's Wonder Women! Roxy Aleman-Richard

For the month of June we are proud to announce that Mrs. Roxy Aleman-Richard is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Roxy Aleman-Richard started her banking career in 2006. Growing up in a family business from a young age gave her exposure to hard-work, financial figures, customer service but most of all connecting with people which has been my greatest passion and the one of the most important component of my success. She started as a Personal Banking Officer at Scotiabank Belize Ltd and went up the ladder to now being the Belmopan Branch Manager. Her greatest resource is her staff and therefore her drive and passion is the development, engagement and upliftment of her staff as persons in leadership roles and in their career paths. She strongly believes in inspiring her staff, leading by example and encouraging them to believe in themselves and that the sky is the limit. She maintains an open door policy to her staff, very open to feedback and provides ongoing coaching opportunities to elevate all staff to higher level. Motivating her staff through reward and recognition for their daily accomplishments has also been instrumental in driving their performance. All her staff are valued and appreciated for who they are and their innermost talents are developed to build self-confidence. She loves to serve her community. Her family has a passion for working with churches, social organizations, schools, under-privileged children, youths at risk and senior citizens. Working with these groups gives her a connection with the community and a sense of self-accomplishment in her personal life by giving back to others what God has blessed her with. It adds value to her family and gives her an opportunity to give our love and support to others that form a part of their lives.

She is a fearless leader and never gives up.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/26/16 07:11 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ms. Elisa Castellanos

For the month of July we are proud to announce that Ms. Elisa Castellanos is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Elisa Castellanos wears many hats but is for sure a Leader. She is most passionate about her human rights advocacy work as the founding Executive Director of Tikkun Olam Belize - a non-profit organization that defends the rights of women sex workers and works toward the decriminalization of sex work through social and political activism, community building, and civil engagement. Tikkun Olam aims to provide education with sexual health, human rights, personal, economic empowerment skills and training programs to catalyze civil engagement as a strategy to social and political advocacy for the human rights in Belize. Elisa Castellanos is a firm believer in the fight for social justice and also seeks to stimulate empowerment by choice for women in Belize through their relentless work to develop programs that have lasting and meaningful impact on the lives of women and their self-actualization.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Conch Creative

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/26/16 08:34 PM

She's an amazing young woman doing great work! Well deserved recognition.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/12/16 11:42 AM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Maria Esther Morales

“We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men... We are who we are because they were who they were. It's wise to know where you come from, who called your name.” – Maya Angelou

For the month of August we are proud to announce that Mrs. Maria Esther Morales is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Maria “Esther” Morales was born in El Salvador, but moved to Belize as a small child. Though Esther was unable to complete her formal education, she worked hard to learn to read and speak English and earned a living as a domestic worker cleaning houses and taking care of children. Esther’s love for children is apparent in her work and the children she cares for thrive under her care. Though Esther loves her work with children and has built a strong reputation as a domestic engineer among the families she works with, she is strongly committed to the well-being of her own three children. At home, Esther’s husband is often required to travel for work for long periods, and to fill the gap Esther works full time and maintains her home. Knowing the importance of the opportunities a good education provides, Esther has done everything in her power to further her children’s education. Esther personally lobbied a local high school to gain admittance for her son after a series of schools rejected him due to space limitations. Due to her perseverance, and many in person visits, her son will be attending high school this fall. Esther is also proud of her younger daughters who are excelling in primary school. Esther is a stellar example of the many unsung wonder women that quietly go to battle everyday to secure better futures for themselves and their families. — with Esther Morales.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/01/16 07:38 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ms. Jacklyn Burns

For the month of September we are proud to announce that Ms. Jacklyn Burns is our Belize Wonder Woman!

"A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman." —Melinda Gates

Ms. Jacklyn Burns was born on October 25th 1976 in the then new village of Hattieville, Belize. Ms. Burns spent her first decade in the Toledo district where culture, etiquette and neighborly relationships were heavy focuses. At age ten, Ms. Burns, the second of six children moved, with her family, to Belmopan where she attended the Belmopan Junior School, Belmopan Comprehensive School and UCB- Belmopan Junior College. She pursued an Associate’s degree in English and after graduating with this qualification, she became a high school teacher at the Corozal Community College. She later transferred to Belmopan Comprehensive School where she still currently teaches. Ms. Burns has taught subjects to include Caribbean History, Religious Studies, Social Studies, Life skills, Literature and English. She enrolled at the University of Belize as a part time student and pursued a Bachelor’s degree, also in English. She graduated Magna Cum Laud in January 2010 and has since served the University as an adjunct lecturer in the English Department.

Ms. Burns is the Head of the English Department at her school, a counselor at the Belmopan City Council, the Chairlady of the Math and English Association for Government Secondary Schools, a member of the National Celebrations Commission and a poet. She enjoys reading, travelling and family time. Her favorite writers are Maya Angelou, Kahlil Gibran, Alysia Harris and Sista Souljah. A quote she lives by is that “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” Khalil Gibran. Jackee, as she is affectionately known has two children and her favorite of all her pastimes is spending quality time with them.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/03/16 05:35 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Senior Pastor Antonette J. Young

For the month of October we are proud to announce that Senior Pastor Antonette J. Young is our Belize Wonder Woman!

‘The empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description.’ Steve Maraboli

It all began with self-determination, values, self-worth and persistent. Mrs. Young knew at a very young age she had a special calling. Migrated to Chicago, Il. at a very young age (17) and resided there for 29 years. During her time in Chicago she was privileged to pursue her career in the medical field as a certified medical assistant and a medical laboratory technologist. She worked at a medical lab as Manager and Clinic Coordinator. In 2000 she moved back to Belize as a Volunteer Missionary to reach people in need. She is the founder and director of Parents Against Drunk Drivers, J & A AIDS a Foundation and Papi's Practical Rehabilitation Program in Orange Walk Town.

In 2003 she became an ordained licensed Pastor of United in Christ Evangelical Church until present. Throughout the years she has learnt to appreciate people and learn to love them as Christ commanded everyone to do. In addition to all the above, once a week, she prepares and delivers meals on wheels to 64 families throughout Orange Walk Town. She has no financial support but by the grace of God she meets her daily obligation to the people in the communities. She also volunteers at the OWPD as their Chaplain.

Ms. Young is Counselor in marriage, teen age runaways, drug and alcohol addicts, troubled teens, domestic violence and human trafficking victims and is also the US Warden for Orange Walk Town for the past four years. She will continue to have a servant's heart and will continue to love and serve people and it does not matter what gender, creed, color or race.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 11/03/16 06:13 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Nicole Haylock-Rodriguez

For the month of November we are proud to announce Mrs. Nicole Haylock-Rodriguez is our Belize Wonder Woman!

'Empowered women who reach tough or unconventional positions make CHOICES not sacrifices.' - Kiran Bedi

Ms. Nicole Haylock-Rodriguez serves as the Deputy Coordinator for the National Security Council Secretariat, Belize Ministry of National Security (MNS). In this position, she is CEO George Lovell, MNS right hand. Most recently Ms. Haylock has been charged with heading up the Technical Support Team currently revising Belize’s 2008 National Security Strategy. She has done a fantastic job coordinating with all ministries within the Government of Belize, as well as with other non-governmental stakeholders to ensure that the 2016 National Security Strategy is all-encompassing, as well as enforceable. This most recent task is in addition to her everyday tasks that include overseeing the development and implementation strategy of the Joint Intelligence Operation Center (JIOC).

Ms. Haylock is truly a remarkable woman that is routinely given the most challenging tasks within the MNS. She is the go-to person for various sections within the U.S. Embassy because she is responsive, decisive and has a never-quit attitude that will serve her well in the future as she advances in her career. Apart from her day to day work she also volunteers to help her community and was elected to be the Secretary of the Belize Alumni Association 2016-2017.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 01/03/17 06:20 AM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ofelia Novelo

For the month of January we are proud to announce that Ofelia Novelo is our Belize Wonder Woman!

“To educate girls is to reduce poverty.”- Kofi Annan

We feature one such individual, one that through her gallant efforts has worked hard to better the lives of women in Orange Walk. We feature Mrs. Ophelia Novelo nee Campos, founder and integral part of the group MAMAS ( Mujeres Ayudando a Mujeres A Superarse (Women helping women to excel) ). Mrs. Novelo is an artisan and instructor born in Orange Walk Town. Possessing the natural ability to care and nurture others, at the tender age of 15, she put her skills to the test and joined the medical field as a nurse at the old Orange Walk Hospital, where she assisted in birth deliveries. At age 18 she met and married Mr. Robert Novelo and they were blessed with five children. In 2005, she formed a group known as MAMAS that provides an outlet for women who wish to become self-sufficient. Training is offered in variety of fields including, but not limited to, sewing, cake decorating, beading and others. The program has graduated over 500 women and by extension touching the lives of thousands. She believes that not everyone has the opportunity or means to attend college or university but they are surely able to learn a skill to become independent, successful and most of all open their own business to be able to provide for their family and themselves.

Presently Mrs. Novelo is a volunteer and vice president of the Helpage group in the Orange Walk District, where she assists in organizing clinics for the elderly.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 02/02/17 06:55 AM

Belize's Wonder Women! Carolina Verde

For the month of February we are proud to announce that Carolina Verde is our Belize Wonder Woman!

“Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own.”- Michelle Obama

Ms. Verde was born on August 6 and grew up in beautiful island of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. She is presently living in Belize City, a single mother of two (2) beautiful kids along with her grandson. She's full time employed at a law firm and also has her part-time business of creating outfits, tutus, hair accessories and more. She is considered to be very ambitious, confident, strong, kind hearted and independent. She is also known to be very caring, friendly, loving and offers a helping hand to anyone. Being a single parent is not an easy task but she pushes very hard and makes sure she provides the basic necessities for her kids. In 2015 her life changed completely, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through Chemotherapy, Radiation and Surgery. She's been a fighter; a survivor; and a woman of strength. Her strong will to live for her family has her going each day.

Ms. Verde continues her battle and is working to empower women that are in her same situation.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Update: Feb 2: Mayor Daniel Guerrero, the San Pedro Town Council and Staff would like to extend its deepest condolences to the Sermeño/Verde family and friends on the passing of Carolina Sermeño Verde. Carolina was a warrior and sure gave a good fight. May her soul rest in peace.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 03/01/17 09:45 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Derricia Castillo-Salazar

March is Women's History Month, and we are proud to announce that Derricia Castillo-Salazar is our Belize Wonder Woman! In fact, Derricia is the Embassy's nominee for the prestigious International Women of Courage award, presented annually by the United States Department of State to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness, and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially in promoting women's rights.

Derricia is one of the highest-ranking women in the Belize Defense Force (BDF) and is an exceptional advocate for women and human rights. She assisted in creating and implementing a BDF HIV Response, spoke at the 38th Meeting of UNAIDS in Geneva, worked as a Conflict Mediator, and is a member of the Caribbean Women's Alliance for Diversity and Equality. Derrica is the Aircraft Maintenance Officer at the BDF and a founding member of the military’s HIV committee, which conducts behavior change campaigns for members of the BDF and the Belize Coast Guard.

Derricia is also a public face and a leading advocate for human rights issues in Belize, particularly LGBTI rights. In 2014, she launched Our Circle, an NGO dedicated to active inclusion of members of the LGBTI community in Belize. Our Circle was born as a result of the obstacles she and her partner, as a lesbian couple, have faced in gaining social inclusion within the structures in Belize.

Despite frequent discrimination, Derricia continues to demonstrate courage and serves as an inspiration to countless women and girls in Belize. Derricia is truly Belize's Wonder Woman and an International Woman of Courage and we are proud of her!

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 04/04/17 05:38 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Cynthia Ellis-Topsey

For the month of April we are proud to announce that Cynthia Ellis-Topsey is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Cynthia Ellis Topsey was born on January 16th, 1953 in August Pine Ridge, Orange Walk. She is a mother of 5 children and a grandmother to 10 grandchildren. She has been a pioneer in Belize and beyond, from mentoring youth and community leaders to improving the quality of their lives in areas of sustainability and environmental justice issues.

Her passion has been to help people help themselves. As the Champion of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Belize. She has trained and mentored several leaders country wide to aid them in promoting innovative projects such as the preservation of the El Pilar Forest Gardening.

As a Garifuna she intends to promote Garifuna youth leadership by launching the Garifuna Rennaissance of organic farming and restoration of trees through community reforestation. Her motto is building Belize one family at a time. As a woman of the 21st century she considers herself for the world. She rests in the spirit of her spiritual name Ubafu to promote people of destiny and purpose. Her mission, vision and aim is to coach , encourage and mentor anyone who wants to challenge themselves to be the best that they can be.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 05/08/17 12:22 PM


The 12th Annual Outstanding Women Awards Ceremony was held in late March 2017. Twenty women were awarded in areas such as economic empowerment, youth services, health, social work, education, and culture.

Doña Ernestina Moh of Caledonia, Corozal is the recipient of this year’s “Woman of Culture Award”. Doña Ernestina has been instrumental in the safeguarding of the cultural tradition of Carnaval in her community and Northern Belize. The award was received on her behalf by her daughter Ms. Angelica Moh.

Learn more about the inspirational stories of all twenty women here.


Doña Ernestina Moh of Caledonia Village receives the 'Woman of Culture' Award for 2017

Doña Ernestina Moh was born in 1938. She has been the leader of the Caledonia Village Comparsa Group for over 20 years. Even before becoming the head of the group in earnest, she dedicated much of her life to the teaching and retrieval of the Carnaval tradition and the cultural forms that accompany it. Through her efforts, the Carnaval of Caledonia Village has been maintained, as Caledonia remains one of the few communities in Northern Belize with a living memory of the tradition, songs, music, and belief system that comprise it.

Many students and cultural activists from other communities visit and rely heavily on Doña Tina, as she is affectionately known, for assistance in translating and explaining the Carnaval songs, and to demonstrate the dances. She has trained countless young people in the traditional dance and music of the Maya-Mestizo of Northern Belize; for this she can be considered a cultural icon within her local community. Additionally, her generosity and dedication to the tradition have allowed her, despite her humble background, to arrange for the elaboration of, and donation of the materials required for the staging of traditional comparsas to the school. She has always said, “The little I know, I want to share.... While I am alive, I will do it.”

Consistent with her promotion of this cultural tradition has been her stress on the maintenance of cultural values. Her work has been based in the premise of encouraging positive identity reinforcement among the young people of Caledonia, pride in Maya-Mestizo Heritage, and respect and understanding for the varied cultural and social beliefs and practices that exist within the community, while always advocating for the promotion and maintenance of Carnaval.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 06/16/17 07:52 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ann-Marie Williams

For the month of June we are proud to announce that Ann-Marie Williams is our Belize Wonder Woman!

We feature one such individual, one that through her gallant efforts has worked hard to better the lives of women in the country of Belize. Ann-Marie Williams is the first and current Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission (NWC) since 2008. Ann-Marie recently participated in the highly prestigious The Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship Program focusing on “Trafficking in Persons, Policy and Prevention" at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. After completing the program, consisting of a year of graduate studies, Ann-Marie received a special certificate. While in DC, as part of her professional development, she worked for a stint at the World Bank on development issues in Knowledge Management. This former television anchor likes being an award-winning journalist best, as it has and continues to broaden her worldview on a myriad of issues, while building her intellectual capacity which is steeped in human rights. Ms. Williams has attended several leadership training institutes; however, her signature achievement came when she was selected from a group of 250 professional women worldwide, a first for Belize, to receive the U.S. Secretary of State Women in Public Service Award (the Hillary Clinton Award) in 2011. She has built a life of service in the Belizean community. As a committed board member of the YWCA for over a decade, she is passionate about improving the world for women and girls because “NOWHERE in the world do women enjoy the same rights as men.”

The U.S. Embassy also congratulates Ms. Williams on another great achievement. On June 11, 2017 in New York, Ann-Marie received an Outstanding Belize award by the Anglican Friends Supporting the Anglican Diocese of Beize, Inc. (FSADB). The award was in Recognition of her dedicated service to Family, Church community and Ministry of the Empowerment of women Worldwide.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 07/02/17 12:10 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Deborah Sewell

For the month of July we are proud to announce that Deborah Sewell is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Deborah Sewell is the Managing Director of the Love Foundation--the Philanthropic arm of the nation's largest private radio and television station. Her passion is youth and community development. After living in both New York and Connecticut, where she held executive roles in several nonprofit organizations, Deborah returned to Belize in 2014 to manage the Love Foundation.

Since March 2014, the Love Foundation has developed the Media Arts Academy, an after school program that teaches children, ages 8-13, reading, writing, and math through integrated learning strategies focused on media and journalism; LEAP Academy, (Learning Earning And Parenting) which provides opportunities for young women, who are single parents, under-educated, and living below the poverty line, with the tools necessary to lead productive, self sustained, and crime-free lives. The Love Foundation's motto is “Transforming Lives With Love," which it does through partnership, collaboration, and with donor support. Deborah has been working tirelessly to improve the lives of young Belizeans.

The U.S. Embassy also congratulates Mrs. Sewell on another great achievement. On June 11, 207, Deborah received an "Outstanding Belize" award by the Anglican Friends Supporting the Anglican Diocese of Beize, Inc. (FSADB) in New York.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 08/01/17 07:27 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Dianne Finnegan

For the month of August we are proud to announce that Dianne Finnegan is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Since 2010 Mrs. Dianne Finnegan has been the Coordinator of the Youth Apprenticeship Program in partnership with the Ministry of Education. She takes her work very seriously, this sometimes requires her to wear several hats such as “bails bonds-woman”, mother, funeral planner, babysitter, nurse, lawyer and many more. Her job does not end at 5:00 pm nor does it begin at 8:00 am. Sometimes she is awaken at 3:00 am by a phone call from one of her desperate youth, who has been arrested by the police and need her help. Sometimes it’s the hospital calling that one of her youth has been shot. As always, she quickly response and races over ready to help. She has never given up hope on the young people in Belize. Calls, text, visits them and before you know it, they are back in the program.

Mrs. Finnegan dedicates all her time and energy to the young people in Belize and has fought many battles with them but even more for them. Mrs. Finnegan is a true Youth Activist.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 09/01/17 08:34 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Carol Harrison

For the month of September we are proud to announce that Carol Harrison is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Mrs. Harrison works at the Ministry of Health as Senior Finance Officer. She has been working with the Government of Belize for 31 years in a number of Ministries in various capacities. Mrs. Harrison started her career as a typist at the Police Training School, later became a clerk, and then moved up the ranks by passing internal exams and acquiring additional qualifications locally and abroad. Besides her professional life, Mrs. Harrison is actively involved in church as a lay minister at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. She also served as executive member of the Public Service Union in different capacities. She is the chairperson for the neighborhood watch group in the Police Housing Area and serves on the Pension Committee. Mrs. Harrison is a member of the Belmopan Belchoral Choir. She engages with her community on every level and always goes above and beyond to help the community.

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/19/17 07:14 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Ms. Beverly Swasey

Meet our Wonder Woman for the month of October, Ms. Beverly Swasey, born on March 13, 1947 to Mrs. Carolyn & Mr. Louis Swasey. She earned her Diploma in Education at the University Of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England in 1977.

She was a very dedicated teacher and started teaching on May of 1964. She taught at Belmopan Junior School, presently known as Evergreen, as well as Belmopan Comprehensive School . Besides her professional life, she is one of the founding members of the Belmopan Cancer Society and was President for 16 years. She is also a Founder of Capital Culture drama group, as well as director and producer of several original plays, and is Representing Belize in El Proyecto Lagartija Centroamericano, which is a group of Central American actors and actresses trying to raise the level of acting in the region. In addition, Ms. Swasey is a Founder of Belmopan Women's Council, now Women Empowering Families.

This Wonder Woman also served as a Belmopan City Councilor and as Deputy Mayor. She received the Belizean Patriot National Award in September of 2016.

Belmopan residents also thank her for all the hard work she has contributed to BCS and our city on a whole. She has helped to mold many of us into the successful men and women we are today.

Congratulations Ms. Swasey!

U.S. Embassy Belize

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 10/23/17 12:03 PM

Mrs. Athelo Endora Cabral (nee Smith ) was born in Belize City on December 20th 1911. She first visited Placencia on vacation in 1936, while a Ward Maid in the Punta Gorda Hospital. Soon thereafter, she caught the eyes of Leopold (poly) Cabral and with the permission of her mother he began to court Thelo. Four long years after, they were married.

In Placencia, she volunteered to teach young people and served as the midwife during the absence of the midwives of Seine Bight and Monkey River. In 1968, she received her Official Midwife Registration Certificate.

Because of her great contribution to Belize, she was honored in 1994 with the medal and title of, " Most Excellent Order of the British Empire."

Awesome lady! Will never forget the best Sunday classes under her house! Sweetest soul ever..... Awesome love and dedication to the human spirit within all of us. What a blessings indeed.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Trailblazing Women of Belize - 11/01/17 10:03 PM

Belize's Wonder Women! Mrs. Rose Anderson

For the month of November we are proud to announce that Mrs. Rose Anderson is our Belize Wonder Woman!

Mrs. Rose Anderson is presently employed as the Health Coordinator for HECOPAB at the Western Regional Hospital. A resident of Cotton Tree Village she has been involved in several initiatives to improve the village including working with the village council and serving as the president of the Women’s group for four years. During her time as the president of the Women’s group the ladies ventured into pepper farming, sewing, fast food production and later established an internet café.

She also works with her local church encouraging and sensitizing leaders to work in areas such as HIV/AIDS, Diabetes and Elderly Care. She has a special passion when it comes to working with older persons. She regularly supports the local programming at HelpAge Belmopan providing health talks and support to the seniors. During her visits to the rural areas in the Cayo District Mrs. Anderson takes special interest in older persons, scheduling time to visit them and listen to their needs and concerns. She has often lobbied for bedding, food and clothing for these older persons and ensures that they are visited by community health workers regularly.

Recently, she has been instrumental in finding homes for the most vulnerable persons in her community; most notably an older woman in Harmony Ville who lost her home to a fire.

U.S. Embassy Belize

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