Please allow me to address this letter to the youth of Belize. In this article, I will mention my living conditions when I grew up in the Southside Belize City, how I obtained an education, and lastly I will list 5 key elements our youth could do to improve their level of education.
First I must mention that my dad was a single father with 5 children. My family once lived on Pen Road Extension in a two- bedroom board house with no light or water. Heretofore, this house is still visible 25 meters from the main road. In addition, whenever it rains the entire area was flooded and had to use pallets as our bridge. Nope, this is not the 80s I am referring to, but to be precise it was the late 90s. In 1997 my sisters and I attended Gwen Lizarraga High School since it was what my dad could have afforded.
We had to finish our homework before the sunset. We had no television, and just a small battery-operated radio. Our lunch money for school was $5 per person a week, and that was sufficient for a .25 cent water and a meat pie daily. I had to fetch water in buckets from approximately 300 meters from a family member. Therefore, I was not ashamed to halt my marbles and executed this duty for about 2 years. My family relocated to St. Martin area and this was when my real journey began.
Anyways, as a third former I noticed the differences between my friends and me. The way they dressed, talked, lived, lunch money, and many more were far different. Besides, some people had it worse, but those from middle class families I could have recognized. I realized that I must do something not only to fit in, but to help my family and myself. So, I then worked at an auto dealer/rental as a handyman. I then performed a wide range of tasks as follows: washed cars, cut the yard, paint, even bathe a dog named Rex, and picked up her feces around the compound. The bosses of the company developed their trust in me and every holiday I had a job where I saved a portion of my salary earned. I graduated from high school in 2001, and I then analyzed my strengths and weaknesses.
What was outstanding was my high performances in mathematics throughout high school, so I selected an associate degree in math as my study field. In retrospect, we had study groups at University of Belize and the significant differences of students who live in poverty, middle class and upper class were extremely visible.
Nevertheless, we all worked together and competed amongst each other regardless of class. I can recall before graduation Mr. Caliz, our best math instructor, asked us individually what our future plans were. Some of my friends mentioned they would further their education abroad. On the other hand, I applied for a job at Customs, Immigration, Fisheries Department, several banks, sat BDF officer selection, and sat police examination. (I presently work at one of the abovementioned departments.)
I went to school part time and obtained a Bachelor’s degree. This was not easy for me, but I always remained true to myself and lived within my means. I always kept in mind that education was my only way out of poverty.
So what our youth should do to improve their level of education is not a hard question to answer. Saying that, what worked for me is not the sole option, but might work for someone who reads this article.
#1 Read – I will not enumerate some of the reasons you must read, but mention that reading develops a person’s knowledge and helps them become an intelligent person who can think critically.
#2. Further your education – Aim high and even if you are not the smartest person in your class try to go as far as physically possible in your studies.
#3. Never give up – The journey might be tough, but never lose hope and always strive to succeed.
#4. Find interest in an activity – For me I enjoy comedy, chess, football, and Sudoku puzzle. School should always be the number one priority, but it should be balanced.
#5 Work extremely hard – Nothing is easy in life, so work hard and believe in yourself because only so others will believe in you.
Finally, here is a favorite quote of mine from Theodore Roosevelt, who once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty … I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Jason “Chinch” Chavez