Corozal Town, often described as a haven of tranquility in what is a slow pace, easy going town, has seen visitors on their way to Mexico’s Chetumal Town. It is the heart of the country’s sugar growing and processing industry as well as Orange Walk and is located between two scenic rivers, the New River and Rio Hondo. It has grown tremendously in the eyes of many of its residents but what still remains is its friendly disposition and its need to help others. This week, allow The San Pedro Sun to introduce you to a lady who has invariably dedicated her life to the betterment of the place she calls home, Corozal Town, Mrs. Glenda Francis.
Mrs. Francis grew up in a big and loving family and was one of six girls (two of which are deceased) and three brothers (one deceased.) Parents Thomas and Maria Bell (both deceased) welcomed their baby girl on November 6th, 1944. Mrs. Francis attended St. Francis Xavier Elementary and during school breaks while children played, she would be helping her mother sell homemade goodies at a school stall that the family kept. “I remember helping my mother sell tableta, cocobrut, jojoli, and various puddings and cakes,” she recalls. Mrs. Francis always loved school and was fortunate enough to have attended high school.
After graduating St. Francis Elementary in 1959, Mrs. Francis was one of the first students to attend St. Francis Xavier College (High School). “While in high school I remember still having to help my mother. This time she no longer sold sweets at the school but would take in laundry. So, everyday after school I would go and help her wash and fold clothes. I never hesitated or got grumpy, I was always happy to be able to help my mom in any which way I could,” she explained. That was the first year that the college opened its doors and four years later, she was a part of the first set of St. Francis Xavier College graduates.
After successfully completing her high school education, Mrs. Francis became an elementary school teacher at Libertad Village. She remained in Libertad for a few months only, “I was young and had no means of transportation. I, therefore, had to travel to Libertad in the truck with all the other men and I was the only girl that would go there to work. After a while I didn’t want to do it anymore so I stopped teaching,” she explained.
Mrs. Francis applied for and got the clerk position at St. Francis Xavier Credit Union. As the clerk, she was responsible for money collections, filing, receptionist duties, and accounting. It was a position that Mrs. Francis kept for the next five years, until, unfortunately the company could not afford her services anymore.
Out of a job, Mrs. Fancis did a lot of soul searching and thinking what she would like to pursue best. Her job at Libertad was great, the commute was horrible so she decided to search for a teaching position in Corozal.
On September 21st, 1968, Mrs. Francis joined her life to her childhood sweetheart’s in a beautiful wedding ceremony. Harrison Francis made her the happiest woman on earth that day and the couple had a son, Jerome Francis now 37.
Looking for a job, Mrs. Francis got a teaching spot at St. Francis Elementary. Since 1970, Mrs. Francis has dedicated her life to teaching Standard two and three students. “I was in love, the children were great. They have a way to trust in you, they confide in you and they are very eager to learn. I could not ask for a better profession.”
Corozal Town also got a new elementary school in the late 1970’s called Mary Hill Elementary and Mrs. Francis was transferred there. She hesitated not one bit in going; she always wanted to make a difference in the lives of the many children, especially those in the age range that she taught. In 1980, however she decided to get further training and enrolled in Belize’s Teacher’s College, and after her graduation became the Principal of the Lower Division at St. Francis Elementary. After seven years, she was transferred to another new school, this time the village of Xaibe had received their first elementary school building. For the following three years, and the last three years in her teaching career, Mrs. Francis taught Standard two and three students. “The last three years were the happiest teaching years that I had. The village life was different from the town life and the kids were amazing.” After 30 years, Mrs. Francis left the teaching profession in 2000.
Wanting to keep busy, Mrs. Francis opted to dedicate herself to the volunteer field. At first, she worked as an interpreter for medical teams that arrived in Corozal and offered medical attention to the various villages around the town. She would go with them and interpret between villagers and medical officials. However, the one volunteer work that she has absolutely loved and completely immersed herself in is Help Age, an organization that assists the elderly. Through her work at Help Age, Mrs. Francis traveled to Jamaica to receive further training, knowledge that she brought back with her and uses in a day-to-day- basis. Working as a Help Age volunteer, Mrs. Francis assists in craft and empowerment workshops. She also helps in physical fitness where nurses check blood pressure, glucose level, etc. of senior citizens to make sure that their health is up to par.
Although the St. Francis Xavier Credit Union could no longer support Mrs. Francis’ services, she has still remained a very active part of the union, as the Board’s treasurer for the past 31 years. In her role as treasurer, she has traveled for training to Barbados and Canada. That’s not all; Mrs. Francis is also a Communion Minister and as such delivers the Holy Eucharist to homebound seniors.
In her free time, Mrs. Francis enjoys watching television and states that the shows she enjoys the most are talk and game shows, and Law and Order. Mrs. Francis states that she has no intention of leaving Corozal, “The love of people keeps me here. I feel good to know that I’ve made someone happy, and with the help that I give, I hope I accomplish that,” she concluded.
A devoted mother, adored by children, and a dedicated volunteer, Mrs. Glenda Francis has shown true love for her country by not sitting back and waiting for changes to come about; she has put in her grain of sand in sharing smiles with “Our Belize Community.”