Saturday, September 27, 2008
Immigrants prosper in Western Belize after hard times.
Young Linnette Figueroa of Hillview, on the slope of narrow Green Parrot Valley has just got her new, two young brown and white rabbits to raise. She is a neighbor of mine, a corner away in our small suburban rural community, part of Santa Elena Town, supposedly. Around 1986, her grandparents and children came to Belize under the auspices of the United Nations Refugee program from El Salvador at the end of the Reagan sponsored CIVIL WAR in Salvador. Her grandfather had some terrible tales to tell of the human slaughter during this war. At any rate, Linnette is now third generation born in Belize, Belizean. Her mother was this age when she arrived with her parents, Linnettes now grandparents. They all live in one house. Her mother Betty, got married young and had two children and then her young husband died in a car accident. Betty, then a widow and her parents and the grandchildren were having a hard time of it. They lived off food they grew themselves. Ground food we call it locally. In order to provide Betty and her children with a job, the old man built a wooden shack to work as a village grocery. This later got expanded to a cement building and doing very well indeed, due to Linnette's mother's hard work and very long hours. The family prospered and her mother and brothers, all have their own piece of land now and small family businesses. They are entrepreneurs and pretty much have to be in the economic climate of Belize. The grandparents speak no English. Betty the mother learned English from taking private lessons and struggling, as she never went to school. They couldn't afford it. She learned to run her store, learned to add and subtract and even now does the bookkeeping for our Falconview Backpackers Hostel, paying contractors as a sideline. Extremely honest and conscientious she is worth her weight in gold to us at the Hostel, as we are very old folks. Linnette though, is the real hope for both the nation of Belize and her family. She goes to school, is bilingual and learning farming, grocery business and other business entrepreneurial skills first hand. Her mother bought a car and learned to drive, has learned to read by herself, learned English the hard way by herself, bookkeeping and other life skills without schooling. A cousin of the grandfather sold out in El Salvador and moved to Belize where he bought a DFC government house across the street, converting it to a cheese making factory and now is clearing 300 acres of jungle in the hinterland, and bringing in dairy cows, as milk which is needed to make cheese is insufficient in the country of Belize. These are the immigrant families to Belize that are the salt of the Earth and are building our new nation of Belize.