Editor: Amandala Newspaper
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Before I apologize, I need to confess my transgressions. I am a Belizean American residing in the States for most of my adult life. I left Belize in my early 20s in search of a better life and financial security. Sadly, I left behind multiple women with whom I fathered children to fend for themselves as single parents. Ironically, I myself was raised by a single parent and extended family who struggled to provide for me and my siblings. I loathe the fact I continued this cycle for another generation.
Looking back, I and many other Belizean men are guilty of abandoning women with children to raise on their own. It is a vicious cycle of occurrence in Belizean society resulting in harsh and life altering consequences for the children and women left behind trapped in poverty, only to be preyed upon by men for economic reasons thereby exacerbating their plight. There are many reasons for this phenomenon: absence of sex education, the taboo of teaching or discussing human sexuality, abortion, poverty, lack of job opportunities, and religion. When I was a young man growing up in Belize, I do not recall ever being taught about family planning or sex education, a subject that was often taboo. There were no government resources to obtain family planning information, or resources to prevent pregnancy such as condoms and birth control pills. People had sex, especially young men such as I was, without knowing the long-term consequences that could result. Unfortunately, women endured most of these consequences.
Belize, being a misogynistic society like most of the world, leveled harsh criticisms and consequences on pregnant women out of wedlock, while celebrating the men who impregnated them for their machismo. These men suffered little to no consequences, while the women were shamed and labelled “fallen women,” thereby diminishing their prospect of marriage. I take full responsibility and hold myself accountable [for the pain] my immigrating caused the women and children I left behind, and I am only discussing the larger societal issues at play to understand the context in which individuals make life altering decisions.
To be clear, I am not citing these faults to obscure or diminish my culpability and responsibility. When I left Belize, my intentions were to selfishly start a new life and foolishly thought I could erase my past. I regret and am sorry for the pain I caused to others. Every night before I go to bed, I think about my life choices and those I have hurt. Regret is my nightly bedmate.
Fast forward. The children I fathered and left behind are now adults and have tracked me down, driven by the innate pull to know their biological father. We hugged and tears were shed. For the most part, they have forgiven me despite the pain and struggles they endured being raised by a single parent. Their forgiveness has lifted a weight off my soul and for this I am most grateful. I apologized profusely to them and promised to try my best to be present in their lives.
To the women I abandoned to raise children on their own, I offer you my heartfelt apology and compensation for the pain you and the children endured, and hope that you are at peace in your lives. I AM TRULY REGRETFUL for the pain and suffering you endured, and if I could live my life over, I would not cause you to suffer and struggle. I would be the man I have grown to be. You all deserved better. “Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa.”
Moses X Benguche
(AMANDALA Ed. Note: “Let him who is without sin caste the first stone.” Respect, brother Moses! You have spoken for many of us Belizean men.)