United Black Association for Development (UBAD) was a cultural, activist, and political organization which was conceived on February 9, 1969, in Belize City, Belize, Central America. This marked a period of enlightenment of African Belizeans with a focus upon positive and accurate facts about Africans locally, and globally. UBAD’s desire to inform and motivate African Belizeans about their African heritage, culture, and history was welcomed, considering it filled a void that was created by the colonial system.
Under President Evan X Hyde’s leadership, UBAD spearheaded a breakfast program and operated a bakery. The Amandala newspaper was one of the most effective organs of communication for UBAD. Following internal conflict, UBAD was formally dissolved in 1974.
Dissolution of UBAD led, 22 years later, to the conception of the UBAD Educational Foundation. The Foundation was launched on March 10, 1996 by a group of Belizean social activists. It was a transition from a political United Black Association for Development (UBAD) to a community-based and culturally interactive organization. Recognizing the inequity within the education system, priority was given to sharing knowledge and communal participation. The foundation is formally registered at the General Registry of Belize under certificate No. 7158 and headquartered at the Library of African and Indian Studies, #3304 Partridge Street (KREMANDALA compound), Belize City.
UBAD Educational Foundation exists: “To provide an educational opportunity for the impoverished African-Belizean youth. Acknowledging the supremacy of God, UEF is nevertheless non-denominational in its religious affiliation, holding to the truth that all men are created equal and are entitled to equal opportunities. On these principles, the foundation has identified the need to address the inequalities of educational opportunities that confront poor young Belizeans. The plight of the African-Belizean is particularly serious given the fact that he/she is becoming increasingly more poorly educated. Thus the single greatest concern of the foundation is to upgrade the educational opportunities for the young African-Belizean, the principal participants in the gang wars.”
In the foregoing mission, UEF initiates and carries out educational and sensitization programs through which knowledge, literacy, numeracy and black consciousness are imparted to African/Black Belizeans of all ages. Anticipated outcome is enhancement of the underprivileged communities on the Southside of Belize City, an area of communities faced with the highest levels of youth illiteracy, school dropouts and families deprived of social amenities.
Our educational initiatives are implemented through the educational arm of the organization namely: The Library of African and Indian Studies. Established in 2000, the library augments UEF’s primary objective of educational advancement and knowledge attainment. Moreover, UEF reaches out to vulnerable women, specifically those in incarceration and recently released from incarceration, through the women’s arm of the organization, namely: Mattie Roter Women’s Outreach Group. KWANZAA Youth Group is the youth arm of the organization.
This report is an annual document that details UEF’s activities and initiatives in the past year, 2013. It is the 6th annual report prepared for presentation to UEF stakeholders.
The narrative is a core segment of this report. It is an account of specific activities and initiatives, current/ ongoing and new, carried out in the year of 2013, detailed as follows:
Library of African and Indian Studies
Established in 2000, the Library of African and Indian Studies is the seat and educational arm of UBAD Educational Foundation. It is a specialty library with an inventory of books rich with information in the disciplines of world history, geography, culture, religion, literature and arts, as well as other disciplines of the social sciences. A considerable amount of books in the inventory contain information on the history and culture of African and/ Black people, as well as Indian/Mayan people. The facility is accessed and utilized by students (school, college and/ tertiary institutions) and the general public on the Southside of Belize City.
Specific educational and other services include:
• A computer assisted literacy and numeracy program
• Free after school tutoring for infants up to upper primary level, during the school year
• Research and course work assistance for high school, college and university students
• An annual summer literacy program that runs in June/August period
• Hosting community/grassroots fora and civil society meetings
UEF hosts its annual summer literacy program in June/August, at the Library of African and Indian Studies. This would be the highlight of our educational programs of the year. It is an intense six-week program, during which emphasis is placed upon reading, comprehension, writing, listening skills, vocabulary, role play, and story narration. The target group is infants up to upper level primary school pupils, ages 5 to 15 years. We place emphasis on involvement of parents in the summer literacy program.
After school tutoring and homework assistance is another educational service that the organization provides. The library facility is open Monday to Friday for primary school children to benefit from this service. High school, college/ university students, and the general public access the facility for course work and/ research purposes with the guidance of a library coordinator.
Educational Partnership with RESTORE Belize
In April of 2013, UBAD Educational Foundation entered into an educational partnership with RESTORE Belize, in the domain of computer-assisted learning. RESTORE Belize is a government initiative which was launched in 2010 to improve the quality of life of every citizen through restoring law and order and community building.
At the start of the year 2013, RESTORE Belize launched a unique educational initiative, in computer-assisted learning in literacy and numeracy. The package in the initiative consisted of computer hardware and software earmarked for organizations and/ community-based organizations with a strong orientation toward educational programs.
Organizations were required to meet a critical criterion in order to be considered in this unique initiative; RESTORE Belize directed contending organizations to write and present an in-kind proposal towards consideration for the package.
UBAD Educational Foundation wrote and presented the required proposal which won approval; UEF won a temporary license (valid for 1 year) to own and run the program software. Six brand new Acer computers with an installation of the literacy and numeracy software were allotted to UBAD Educational Foundation. The software is comprised of student training interface on five computers and an auto skill management system installed on one (1) computer server. A retired educator who is a member of the organization was seconded to RESTORE Belize for official training in use of the student training interface and auto skill management system.
The entire package of six brand new Acer computers installed with the necessary software was officially received on April 30, 2013; complementing the computers were three new APC UPS units, five head phone sets and two hard copy manuals of the software.
Computer-assisted literacy and numeracy training at the Library of African and Indian Studies began on May 15, 2013, and is ongoing. The program caters to primary school children; teenaged school dropouts and adults, facilitating improvement in literacy and numeracy skills. The initiative has boosted UEF’s educational aspect.
“Time To Read” summer literacy program at UEF, sponsored by RESTORE Belize
The 2013 summer holiday was graced with a special literacy program, themed “Time To Read,” under the auspices of RESTORE Belize. The program was conducted for one month with the aim of promoting the initiative in and around the St. Martin De Porres area served by the UBAD Educational Foundation. “Time To Read” targeted and gave a chance to school children who are not enrolled in the same program during the regular school year period.
The program was a success, considering the target group was reached and adapted to the training with keen interest to learn. Also, it provided the opportunity to identify pros and cons which would form a basis for crafting best practices. These were relayed to RESTORE Belize’s evaluation and monitoring department.
Ambassador of Taiwan to Belize calls on UEF
The embassy of Taiwan (China) is a crucial partner with RESTORE Belize in advancing educational and/ development programs. RESTORE Belize identified UBAD Educational Foundation as one of the sites that was well-organized, efficient and effective in running the computer-assisted literacy and numeracy program. On 23rd July, 2013, Taiwan Ambassador to Belize – H.E. David Wu, in conjunction with RESTORE Belize, visited and toured UEF Library of African and Indian Studies to get a sense of progress in running the program. During this time, Ambassador David Wu observed an ongoing class, interacted with trainees and learned more about UEF in general. He commended UEF’s crucial role in advancing educational opportunities.
On the 4th of December 2013, RESTORE Belize officially handed UEF a permanent license for a permanent installation of the literacy and numeracy software. UEF was considered for a permanent license on account of managing the program effectively, while exhibiting commitment in advancing the program.
Minister Louis Farrakhan calls on UEF
Minister Louis Farrakhan, a renowned black religious and social leader from the USA, visited Belize in early March of 2013. The UBAD Educational Foundation was honored to host the Minister’s first meet-and-greet to a community-based organization (UEF) in the Lake Independence area.
The Minister’s meet-and-greet at the Library of African and Indian studies (UEF seat) occurred on March 5, 2013. During this time, UEF management shared the organization’s history, mission, objectives and present activities and/ initiatives. Also it was a time during which the Minister gave a lecture, shared some of his beliefs and answered questions posed by the small gathering present.
Minister Farrakhan commended UEF for its valuable purpose to the community, while lauding Evan X Hyde for his effort in advancing social justice and opportunities through the defunct United Black Association for Development (UBAD) transitioned to present UEF.
Workshops, consultation meetings, and cultural events
UEF participates in workshops and/ consultation meetings pertaining to social issues, such as culture, education, civil society, activism, and patriotism. Moreover, the organization is instrumental in organizing and hosting consultative meetings at the Library of African and Indian Studies. Some of the grassroots organizations hosted at the Library of African and Indian Studies in 2013 included: Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA), and individual community activists.
February 15, 2013: On invitation from National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), UEF participated in one of the final phases of the National Cultural Policy Consultation, held in Belmopan.
Collaboration with NICH in the fifth travelling Caribbean film showcase
The fifth travelling Caribbean film showcase was hosted in Belize in the month of April, 2013, under the auspices of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH). The film event is tied to culture and education, offering Belizeans an opportunity to view film works by Caribbean filmmakers at no cost.
In a bid to incorporate underprivileged communities into the event, UBAD Educational Foundation was selected and assigned to screen films at its facility – The Library of African and Indian Studies. Specific films were allotted for viewing to three categories: primary school children; high school/adult school students and the elderly. Screenings of the films at UEF’s Library took place on April 18th and 19th of 2013.
The films project the reality of life in the Caribbean; most of them are cast in Spanish and subtitled in English, subsequently breaking language barriers and unifying the region.
June 28, 2013, UEF management hosted a meeting with Celeo Alvarez, President of Ethnic Community Development Organization (ODECO) from Honduras. Celeo Alvarez was on a mission to share a proposal geared toward establishing a university for people of African descent in Central America, located in Honduras. A critical subject of discussion was a possible partnership between UEF and ODECO in facilitating growth of the said university; UEF expressed interest in taking a role to facilitate growth of the initiative. A hard copy of the proposal was handed to UEF.
In July of 2013, UEF Chairperson, YaYa Marin Coleman, spearheaded a link between the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and grassroots individuals and organizations, for the purpose of securing funds toward initiating gardening projects in grassroots communities. Diane Wade, UNDP Environment Program Analyst, attended a meeting at UEF’s Library of African and Indian Studies, and she sensitized various grassroots community members with respect to UNDP’s role and workings in facilitating collaborations with community members, with an interest in urban development initiatives.
Subsequent meetings are expected at the start of 2014, leading to possible funding and initiation of projects in earmarked grassroots communities in Belize City.
October 4, 2013: UEF was invited to and participated in a workshop on computer-assisted learning, convened by RESTORE Belize. The workshop revolved around brainstorming ideas directly related to effective management of computer-assisted learning programs; sharing best practices and recommendations; strengthening collaboration between different sites.
UEF affiliated groups
Two groups are affiliated with UBAD Educational Foundation.
(1) Mattie Roter Women’s Outreach Group reaches out to female convicts in incarceration as well as the ones previously incarcerated. The primary objective of the group is to facilitate in the process of molding this category of women into positive and productive beings.
The group visits Belize Central Prison on a monthly basis to provide training in life skills, give motivational talks, guidance and moral support to incarcerated females. The same support is given to former female convicts who may have joined the group after release from incarceration. In this way, Mattie Roter Women’s Outreach Group facilitates the target group to ably transition back into mainstream society. A house structure has been identified and negotiated for, along the Western Highway, to be established as a Transition House for previously incarcerated women.
The Library of African and Indian Studies makes available space for the group to meet and plan their activities.
(2) KWANZAA Youth Group is constituted of young Belizeans, ages 5 to 15 years. The group’s existence is premised upon the principles of KWANZAA. KWANZAA is a cultural celebration created by an African American, Dr. Maulana Karenga. The celebration commences on 26th of December and ends on the 1st of January the following year. During this time people of African descent celebrate their heritage, cultural strengths, and traditional values by incorporating the seven principles of Kwanzaa. The seven principles of KWANZAA include: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).
KWANZAA Youth Group gathers at the Library of African and Indian Studies on the first Sunday of every month. Adults and/ elders mentor the group within a character-building framework. On this day there is discussion and/enlightenment on various aspects related to the seven principles of KWANZAA. The highlight event during the gathering is a game of Scrabble, reason the day is dubbed “Sunday Scrabble.” Incorporating the game of Scrabble reinforces the educational aspect of building vocabulary/a word bank, basic numeracy skills, and strengthens participants’ observation, listening, and thinking abilities.
September is a month of historic milestones and celebrations in Belize! UBAD Educational Foundation spearheaded revival of the Simon Lamb March in 2009. It is the same year that UEF entered into a partnership with Belizean-American “Friends of Simon Lamb” to carry on the march.
Simon Lamb (1833-1914), a black man, is acknowledged as the individual who singlehandedly kept observance of the Battle of St. George’s Caye on September 10th, after it had fallen into obscurity among the populace. In 1898, he organized the first celebration marking the Centenary of the historic battle of St. George’s Caye on September 10, 1798.
On September 10, 2013, members of UEF together with Belizean-American “Friends of Simon Lamb” marched through the principal streets of Belize City to Lords Ridge Cemetery, where a wreath was laid on Simon Lamb’s grave.
Central American Black Organization (CABO) Annual General Meeting, 2013
The Annual General Meeting of the Central American Black Organization (CABO) was held in Bluefields, Nicaragua between December 3, and December 8, 2013. CABO is a regional black organization constituted by black grassroots organizations in the Central American region, with UBAD Educational Foundation being a member.
UEF Chairperson, YaYa Marin Coleman, and Marilyn Marin Sandifer represented UEF and Mattie Rotter Women’s Group, respectively, at the CABO Annual General Assembly, 2013. This year was an election year. Due to irregularities during the election process, the results were questioned by 4 of the 6 member organizations of CABO.
The Central American Black Organization exists with the objective of alleviating oppression and empowering black people in Central America. The annual general assembly focuses on issues related to oppression and empowerment of black people in Central America.
Fundraiser events for UEF, in partnership with Tropicana Lounge
UEF’s status as a non-funded organization warrants the need for resourceful ways of raising much needed funds. Proceeds from fundraising go towards facilitating UEF program work and maintenance of the Library of African and Indian Studies. To date, two Jazz Jam Sessions have been hosted; the inaugural session occurred on October 16, 2013 followed by the second session on December 18, 2013. Both sessions were a success.
Nelson Mandela condolences book at UEF’s Library of African and Indian Studies
On 5th December 2013, the Republic of South Africa and the world lost Nelson Mandela, an iconic anti-apartheid activist and first Black president of the Republic of South Africa. Amandala Assistant Editor, Adele Ramos, a journalist who is affiliated to UBAD Educational Foundation, conceived the idea of opening a condolences book at UEF’s Library of African and Indian Studies, in honor of Nelson Mandela.
UBAD Educational Foundation is the sole entity in Belize known to have opened a condolences book in honor of the iconic Nelson Mandela. Between 9th and 16th December, 2013, students and the general public were invited to file into the Library facility, write their remarks and sign. Students from St. Martin De Porres Primary School, Belize Elementary School, Gwen Lizarraga High School, teachers and a host of non-school individuals of the public signed the condolences book. On display was Nelson Mandela’s obituary in hard copy; books and/ autobiographies of the deceased hero, and a recorded coverage of his memorial service.
An electronic version of the book will be produced for archival purposes, while the ultimate intention is to send the hard copy version to the Government of South Africa.
UBAD Educational Foundation prides itself on bringing value and positive change to underprivileged Belizeans of African descent and grassroots people in general. The public is encouraged to visit UEF’s Library of African and Indian Studies, on KREMANDALA compound, where there is access to educational services at no cost.
Amandla. Ngawethu. (Power to the people)