I first wrote and published this piece almost in July of last year via my Facebook account entitled, “Sweet Belizean Child, I apologize.” I do not remember what news story spurred me to write this piece, but for sure it was about a child shot, and possibly, killed by a person whose trigger finger knew no mercy and whose bullet had no name. I reshare this piece today knowing that the heartless phenomena has not ended.
I don’t know the number of children that were shot and killed between the year I was born, 1997 and this year, 2018, but today I remember ALL children affected by gun violence and I say the names of these children and the ages they were shot with a heavy feeling on my heart:
Theodore Mahler — 8 years old
Gregory Mena — 1 year old
Treshawn Goff — 4 years old
Aaron Pope — 9 years old
Tyler Savery —7 years old
Carline Banner —11 years old
Orlando Reyes —12 years old
Charlie Espat — 2 years old
Daisy Acevedo — 6 years old
Eyannie Nunez —8 years old
Etana Bennett —3 years old
I don’t watch the news often because it is quite frankly a fresh buffet of depression at 6 p.m., no matter the media house I choose to consume it from. Come to think of it, though, I really don’t have to because I grew up in Southside Belize City (or the new zoning euphemism the police now chooses to use). I’ve seen multiple people shot over my lifetime. I’ve known family members that have been shot multiple times knocking on death’s door. I’ve watched friends in my primary school class beg to not sit at windows because they themselves were being hunted because of where they grew up or who their dad was, notice that use of past tense. I’ve watched young men I used to have silly crushes on as a kid flung into the backs of police mobiles, either for another time or for the last time.
It’s different when I hear of a child being shot and killed. I get mixed feelings because I think that they never have to experience the horrors I’ve seen, mine being on the lower spectrum of the most gruesome. They never have to experience death every day, everywhere. I also think how dare the shooter kill a child, a child as he walks to the corner shop, a child as he plays in his yard, a child in her sleep? This bundle of unlimited potential who has not yet experienced the glory of life. It’s heartbreaking, it’s disgusting, it’s unjust, it’s unfair to think that the resting place of a child can be the place they take their last breath. No place is a safe space.
We talk about and sympathize with the people at the REAL Gaza strip, in the land of opportunity that is the USA, and the atrocities that ravage the African continent, but we really have our own war that is now directly affecting our children, our building blocks. The predictions of ‘Like Bush Fire’ materializing every day. This hurts so badly. The pain lives in my head, my heart, my spirit. I cannot even fathom what the mothers, fathers and families are feeling.
It needs to stop. We need to take back our sons and daughters, our homes, our communities, our Belize. We are no longer losing bits of our nation; we are now losing huge chunks of it in the physical form of our children. I’ll put aside (for a little while) my commentary on the possibility of losing actual Belizean territory to Guatemala for something closer to my heart.
To my sweet Belizean child, I’m sorry that you had to endure what you had to endure. I’m sorry that violence was the last experience you had in this world. I pledge my life to making that experience better.
I end with the vision statement of the Children’s Agenda 2017-2030, “the vision to be achieved by 2030 through the successful implementation of the Children’s Agenda is that Belize will become the best country in the world in which to grow up and raise a family, and where the rights of all children and adolescents are respected, protected and fulfilled; where their voices are heard and where they are supported to realize their maximum potential.”