The annual Youth Awards was held on Friday night at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts in Belize City where over fifteen awards were issued to young persons for achievements in sectors such as agriculture, education, innovation and media, among others. Minister of Youth, Patrick Faber was a speaker at the event and spoke mostly on the evident progress being made by young persons in Belize.
“That since 2008 we’ve been able to steadily increase the visibility of the Department of Youth Service. The youth gala that is here is one such event, one signature event if you will and I’ll tell you that it was mentioned earlier that this Youth Awards was the brain child of my predecesor in the collet area and also former minister of youth development Ms.Faith Stuart Babb. That idea of course went dormant for a while and it was revived after some years and I will tell you that the success that we are seeing tonight with this Gala is something that came eventually after the investments of many because the first few left some things to be desired but now we are the level where we are on Love Tv, we could have international guest speakers, a wide variety of our young people being honored because they are doing great things. I sat down and I watched some videos and so on that they showed me at the DYS about the work that so many of our young people are engaged in and I was amazed and blown away. I think the only thing we need to continue doing or we need to do differently is to promote the work of the DYS because a lot is going on there, the DYS of course promotes the work and the engagement of the young people across this country from north to south and east to west and that is also tremendous. There are some young people doing things that you would not imagine. I’m reminded of our mistress of ceremonies I really believe in Tarun, I saw Mr.Munnings present as well these are just two examples of young people who we can say have blossomed tremendously, mucho talent in Belize especially the young people. My friends we are here to celebrate them tonight and of all of them those who have been awarded so far, those honorable mentions and in fact those who are yet to come a wonderful applause for all their efforts and we want them to keep on doing what they are doing because it is a great effort.”
Guest speaker for the occasion was American national, Deshawn Jiwe Morris who is a reformed gang leader. He came in last Thursday and during his presentation he spoke of what it means to him for being here in Belize speaking on his experiences.
“Being here today it was never in my wildest dreams that my story could travel internationally. Again it goes back to what I said earlier that the struggle is universal so whether I’m from Belize or not I understand struggle and I understand the world. I understand it some very deep dark levels, I’ve experienced and seen darkness in some of the deepest places and I’ve survived much of that and these are the types of testimonies that we need, we need more of these testimonies for those who have survived the struggle and these wars. We need to create hope. That is probably one of the problems why youngsters now are not motivated, they have nothing before them to excite them or motivate them and that is when you have all the negative things to creep in and that is what takes hold of your babies. You have to fight for your children every single day. You have to fight for them. So again I am beyond thrilled that I was brought here. Just as much as my coming here and being of some service to you guys you all have been of service to them. It shows us back in the states that regardless of what you’ve been through how down you’ve been, there were times that people counted me out and thought that I could not be anything other than what I was and it shows that you can stay your course you continue to work and sacrifice to make changes in your life that it can happen. Back in the states they have things that you have criminals and convicts that they feel that you can never change and that is why our imprisonment rates are so high in America. They say a tiger can never change his stripes and I am living testimony that you can’t change your life. My priorities are a lot different from what they were before, my priorities consist of those four babies that I have in the home, I have to put them first before I make decisions. I’m learning and relearning things. That goes and is what change is about. Most times people are uncomfortable, people are uncomfortable that is when people change. I’ve been asked quite a bit through my interviews what my defining moment was I always tell them that it was time. I’ve been through enough and enough is enough. You can get sick of being sick and tired.”
The award categories included Environmental, Innovation, Media, Enterprise, Arts and Culture, Youth Club, Differently Abled Award, Youth in Agriculture, Youth in Sports as well as CARICOM Youth Ambassador’s Award and the Pacesetter Award.