Our Community - Jose Raul Perez - "Setting up Services in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 39            October 23, 2003

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Jose Raul Perez

If you take some time to read the Belizean newspapers, or listen to the news on the television or radio, chances are you will learn about a newly formed committee or organization. But are these organizations/committees serving their purpose? Some surely are. In order to accomplish goals that will benefit the community, group leaders must delegate work accordingly to the interested and hardworking people who form these organizations. This week, The San Pedro Sun is pleased to introduce a "transplant" from El Salvador who spearheaded one of the newest and active organizations in San Pedro - Mr. Jose Raul Perez.

    Jose Raul Perez was born on November 21st, 1959 in Cuscatlam, El Salvador to Amalia Paredes and Jose Sebastian Perez. Raised in a humble family of five sisters and one brother, Raul was a very intelligent young boy who excelled in his studies all the way through junior college. While attending high school, Raul developed a keen interest in radio and television repair, as well as electricity, which led him to take additional courses. When Raul turned 21, he began working full-time as a radio and television repairman, a job which he says gave him a lot of satisfaction. At the time, El Salvador was not a peaceful place; it was a country filled with conflict and war. As a result, many Salvadorans were immigrating to Honduras but Raul had heard that Belize was another country where he could begin a new life.

    Raul's curiosity got the best of him and he arrived in Belize in September 1985. His first stop was Belmopan where he made contacts with other Salvadoran families living there. Always a hardworking individual, Raul immediately joined the work force and moved to the Stann Creek District where he was hired as a laborer for one of the many banana plantations. To earn extra income, Raul also repaired TVs and radios for the local residents.

    Feeling settled in Belize, Raul returned to El Salvador a few months later to bring his wife, Bridget Reyes, back to his new-found home. Upon their arrival in Belize, the couple moved to Santa Elena, San Ignacio Town, where he opened an appliance repair shop. After seven years of enjoying the beautiful Cayo District, Raul was convinced to move to San Pedro by his brother-in-law, who had been residing on the island for three years. "He would entice me by bringing a cooler full of lobster, fish and conch every time he would visit," Raul told The San Pedro Sun.

    In December of 1991, Raul arrived in San Pedro to "check things out." Within two months time, he secured a home and a place where he could set up his shop. Raul then returned to San Ignacio to bring his family to "La Isla Bonita." Raul's TV and radio repair business was more than welcomed by the islanders as there was a great need for this type of service. After years of hard work, Raul managed to purchase a house in San Pedro, where he presently resides with his wife, and children Raul Jr. (22), Sandra Elizabeth (14), and Brinette Guadalupe (4).

    Aside from work and family, Raul also has a passion for football. For the past four years, Raul has volunteered his services as an announcer for local games. A natural when it comes to live radio broadcast, Raul was also hired as a part-time announcer on Reef Radio, the island's radio station where he hosts the program "Lunes Arecife Deportivo."

    A very humanitarian individual, Raul found another calling when, on January 13th, 2001, a massive earthquake left many people dead and thousands of families homeless in El Salvador. Raul was in El Salvador when this tragic event took place and he witnessed the destruction first-hand. The impact of this catastrophe was still fresh in Raul's mind when he returned to San Pedro, so he decided to do something to help the victims.  With the aid of another Salvadoran national, Raul was able to convince the key leaders of the island to hold a massive radiothon to collect funds for the Salvadoran earthquake victims. To their surprise, the people of Ambergris Caye responded wholeheartedly to this "cry for help" making the radiothon a grand success. From this collective effort, the organization "Communidad Salvadoreña Residentes de San Pedro" (The Salvadoran Community Residents of San Pedro) was born. In order to distribute the donations, the group traveled to remote villages of El Salvador and personally handed out clothing, construction materials, and other non-perishable goods.

    Since then, these Salvadoran nationals have helped out with numerous charitable events, and Raul remains one of the most active representatives of this group. "The people of San Pedro demonstrated to us that they have a big heart and are very generous people so we wanted to give back to the community. That is why we decided that our group would always join forces with the town in times of need," commented Raul. "San Pedro has provided me much tranquility. Apart from the island's beauty, the warmth of the people is one of the town's biggest assets," Raul ended.

    Jose Raul Perez left an unstable life in El Salvador behind and now calls San Pedro his home. Having a successful business, today he enjoys the fruits of his labor as he continues to provide all types of services for the needs, and needy, of "Our Community."

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