Letters — 28 October 2017
A Belizean patriot from the United Kingdom

Dear all,
It is with immense sadness that I take the liberty of writing in lamentation on the incredible rise in crimes of violence and death, particularly amongst the young men in our land. It appears that death and personal loss of many loved ones is a continued “Game of Thrones” in daily living! It is difficult to put real meaning and context to the emotional experience that is stirred deep within my psyche when presented with such sad observations. It seems beyond immediate conscious explanation.

Hence, I ask for understanding as I dare to comment on the grieving of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who are affected by and feeling the painful loss and grief at this very moment. Notwithstanding this, I also grieve for the loss of my land and the serenity of the past. Nostalgia, real enough, but I knew of a time when, in Belize City, I could walk anywhere, anytime; night and day, only fearing the bites of stray dogs and scoldings when passing another citizen without a courteous greeting!
Ah, you may say, these are dreams of the old fossils which are enmeshed within the bygone years! But please bear with me for a few moments longer. I feel like a man who is being robbed of normality in his land, a God-given nation. An area where the living is becoming a restricted physical world; where the right to live and sanctity of life is being eroded to the point of mere survival and daily existence if you’re lucky.

The thought of how young men and future fathers compound my difficulty, by seemingly, choosing, being forced to abandon immediate and national family focus is quite bewildering. Fatherhood is a critical unifying glue that binds a family and a nation together. Please, please, do not abandon the script, men. Please do not leave lone, beautiful, intelligent and overburdened mothers to bear the burdens alone!  I have my skepticism about indulgent, culturally dismissive, and environmentally reckless tourism.

Nevertheless, if you bite the hands that feed you, you will eventually starve. Don’t let the impulse of immediate self-satisfaction and envy drive acts of violence against visitors. If we continue to threaten the tourist, the trade we will surely be on a transitory proverbial slippery slope; a journey that will lead to chaos and the potential for imposition of law enforcement by outside powers.

Yes! It is not just what you may have started thinking that I am, just, immersed in yesterday’s thinking.  Of course, I would love that this was such a time when Belizeans were subject to accusations of being all attached to the umbilical cord of the selected past that portrays a desired legacy of the idyllic past! And, even furthermore, that the aged remain captive in slave thinking, dated ideologies, imposed by colonial masters’ thinking.

But even supposing that this was anywhere near the being the case, are we not challenged today by the high risk of adherence to acquired externally driven cultures of urbanized metropolises outside Belize? And, furthermore, challenged by the emptiness that comes in its wake resulting on many being set on a path, overburdened emotionally on life’s highway paved with fear of violence?!  I urge all consciously aware Belizeans to be cognizant of and to bear this in mind: Though the yesteryears had their problems undoubtedly, they did allow for a more immediate reflected empathy and humanity for each other; a behaviour that held sway in the way we interacted and related to each other.

So, indulge at the very least, the machinations of an older Belizean brother. Do your part in establishing hope for the future. I am a shameless believer in change and the power and reverence of God to guide us in the right direction. So, I know that even if you feel dismissive of my comments at the moment, you may well find a way to reflect and have cause to do something positive for Belize. Help her to deliver herself from her cries of anguish and pains. Hold her hands and remind her that you are here, a child from her bosom and that she will never bear her burdens alone. Let God’s grace bring and fill you with the blessing of courage and growth to give towards her future! Call to her with an affirmation of her being your land!
Respect to All!

Gilroy Ferguson

PROFILE
A Belizean and former employee of the Medical Department, now residing in the UK, and former consultant (now retired) and creative healthcare professional with over 50 years’ experience of working in mental health care, commercial health, NHS, and voluntary sectors. He has over 40 years of clinical management experience with specialist skills for facilitation within a wide range of organizations, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and voluntary community actions for influencing health, psychiatric community nurse, clinical manager, primary care facilitation in particular.

He has also been a Non-Executive Director in the NHS. In the corporate sector, he held several key clinical and operations roles as a member of senior management teams. He has attended the international strategic conference for the development of a global strategy for Employee Assistance Programmes. He is a counsellor, trainer, and personal development coach. Was a senior MD at Behavioural Psychological Services, (UK); Senior Clinical Consultant PPC Ltd. (Intl); Non-Executive Director of Salford Mental Health Trust; and Manchester Family Health Services Authority. Member of NHS Patients’ Reference and Strategy Group UK.

Education: BA Social Administration & Social Psychology (2.1) University of Lancaster UK: Advance Diploma in Community Psychiatric Nursing (CPN), University of Manchester; Registered Mental Health Nurse, (RMN), English National Board; Counsellor/therapist, Wigan Polytechnic UK; Critical Diploma Incident Management, University of Bristol, UK; Personal Development Coach, and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) specialist. MA (Course) Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Leeds, UK; Studies – Union & The Labour Party, University of Edinburgh; Rapid Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), North West Institute UK;

He is currently retired but provides occasional consultancy on psychological risk management and psychological first-aid. He was a volunteer counsellor and trainer with the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. He has also lectured in colleges and university on race and mental health issues. He has also written articles on the subject.  “Big Black and Dangerous”, 1993, “Mental Illness Amongst Black People – A product of their social experience”, “Assessing the Health Needs of People from Minority Ethnic Groups,” edited by Salman Rawaf and Veena Bahl, published jointly by the Royal College of Physicians, Faculty of Public Health Medicine and the Department of Health. Gilroy has also trained as a Critical Incident Response specialist (Bristol University) and has participated as a responder in high profile incidents such as the North Sea helicopter crashes in 2009 and other major disasters and incidents involving terrorism in the UK. He is married with three sons and two grandchildren.

In spite of the distance, he is very much a Belizean and a patriot!

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