Reflections by the Chairperson of U.E.F., Sista YaYa Marin Coleman
1. What is U.E.F.’s purpose? U.E.F. was formed as a community based organization 22 years ago on March 10, 1996 by a group of Belizean social activists. Their intentions were to link the transition from United Black Association for Development (UBAD) 1969-1974 a cultural and political organization to U.E.F. an organization focused on community development through education from an African and Indigenous perspective.
2. What leadership lessons have you learned as the chairperson of U.E.F. for almost 12 years? My personal development is connected to my leadership ability. So 12 years ago, I was less open to accepting other people’s positions that were different than mine, I was unable to speak with people in a respectful manner when I had preconceived thoughts about them, and I did not know how to work with people in harmony when we had different life philosophies. I cannot give what I do not have. So U.E.F.’s growth has been stunted in some ways due to my personal growth. Another major lesson I learned is to work through my personal fears, and to do things differently to get different results.
3. What does these 22 years of U.E.F. and 18 years of the Library of African and Indian anniversaries mean? Our organization U.E.F. is headquartered at the Library of African and Indian Studies, at 3304 Partridge Street in Belize City. Our opening hours are from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. We have a small membership, who have worked consistently and creatively to keep our Library space available to our community members, in particularly our people in Southside Belize City. Our U.E.F. members have collaborated with other groups to provide authentic and meaningful engagements. We have worked with Spoonaz Photo Cafe and Bar, the Belize Central Prison, the Image Factory, Restore Belize, St. John’s College, the Government of Belize, the University of the West Indies, Kremandala and private citizens. From these community dialogues, interactions, and fun activities we have consciously weaved literacy, arts, Emancipation Day Recognition, meditation, research, homework guidance, knowledge of self, poetry, field trips, and regional visits to develop aware people. Collectively we have been able to put into action, “power to the people.”
4. Has the location of U.E.F. helped or hindered the delivery of services for U.E.F.? Interesting question! Our physical location is behind the Zinc Fence, aka the Kremandala Media Compound, and we are located in Southside Belize City. Both locations are powerful spaces for the delivery of U.E.F. services. Our Kremandala Media Compound has the history of being a credible community space and a majority of our improvised Belizeans live in the Southside of Belize City. For example, at our Library of African and Indian Studies, we recently partnered with Smart who provided us with free internet services and ink for our printer. Many Belizean students do not have internet or printing access. With our Smart partnership, we are able to provide a safe and supervised space for students to do research and print their school work. Absolutely no social media access permitted! Our Library Coordinator Ava Palacio may be contacted at 202-4703, extension 241.
5. What may our Belizean community look forward to from U.E.F. in 2018? Our monthly U.E.F. poetry fundraiser every third Thursday at 6:00 p.m. on North Front Street at Spoonaz Cafe. Virgina Echols, and Sean Taegar have been instrumental in coordinating these fundraisers for the past 5 years. Our annual Emancipation Day Community Lecture and Gathering on August 1, 2018. In closing U.E.F. being more intentional in organizing and solidarity building at home and within our region.