The US humanitarian initiative, Beyond the Horizon, is coming back to Belize this year. The last time, this initiative took place was in 2017 in southern Belize. This year the activities will focus on the rural communities of the Corozal District. Chargé d’Affaires, Keith Gilges, gave us an insight into what the initiative is and how it will help the various villages. According to Gilges, the initiative is a symbiotic approach where the US military agencies will receive training and Belize will benefit from their services and projects.
Keith Gilges, Charge d’ affaires, US Embassy: “Beyond the Horizon 2020 is an exercise that we do in cooperation with the Belizean government provide humanitarian assistance, medical, school construction those types of programs. And the reason it’s so beneficial for both of us is it gives our folks our service members \ an opportunity to exercise their skills at same time in exercising those skills they’re able to provide a benefit to the Belizean people. Now Beyond the Horizon 2020 will be in the Corozal area between May and August, we’ll be doing refurbishments and construction at four schools, we’ll be doing a clinic, will also be conducting health clinics for Belizean people; don’t know exactly where that’s going to be those sites haven’t been finalized but we look to provide Optometry Care, Dental Care, women’s health issues, pharmacy services, general family medical services. Again, this is an exercise that gives our folks, our service members an opportunity to practice their skills, to exercise in a different environment and it then provides a tangible benefit to the Belizean people so it’s really a win-win scenario. The last time in 2017 when Beyond the Horizon happened it was down south. So at that time it was determined well next time let’s do it up North so we do want to move these things around but it’s not trying to spread across the entire country. In order to logistically manage this level of engagement we need to have some sense that it’s centralized around an area so Corozal was chosen. It’s not in Corozal itself but in the rural communities around C orozal, you know for the school’s it’ll be in Chan Chen, San Antonio ,San Pedro and Paraiso. Again the medical clinics where we actually build a clinic will be in Chan Chen, where we conduct Health Services in cooperation with the Ministry of Health will be in four sites around the Corozal area. But again, we haven’t announced as yet we have we need to finalize, you know, all these sorts of things when you have these exercises it is a big logistic lift to bring in. The idea is should there, in the future be a need for humanitarian assistance here, should there be that hurricane that we know is coming sometime and we need to bring in some support at the request of the police and government to help out we want to have tried this before we want to do these exercises so that we know how to interact with the Belizean military here so we know how to work with health Ministry so we know how to work with the Education Ministry. So that’s really what these exercises are about.”
There have been 4 Beyond the Horizon initiatives since 1997. According to Gilges, the resources that are available will dictate when another one will take place in the country.