In October 2015, Belize became the most recent country to have RET open a new country office. This small country in Central America, with more than 60% of the population under 24 years, faces crime and violence that has been exacerbated by instability in neighbouring countries and the drug route forcing itself throughout Central America. Young people in the country are increasingly put at risk by illegal activities that range from theft, petty crime, drug, human trafficking and gang related murders. To protect Belizean youth from these risks, we propose to employ the toolkit of impactful educational approaches we have developed over the last 15 years, through collaboration with key Youth Organizations.
A predominantly young population can be a great positive force, but the barrier to this in Belize is the acute lack of opportunities for youth to play their role in society. It is precisely to fill this gap that RET is working to make a positive impact by bringing relief and resilience via education.
Our first programme in Belize is supported by the U.S Department of State’s Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). CARSI aims at creating safer streets for the citizens of this region by responding to criminality and contraband via the strengthening of populations, governments and coordination in the region. In light of this, RET’s programme works with Belizean youth by proposing community and personal leadership training as well as opportunities for improving livelihoods via apprenticeship placements and for creating and manage successful income generating projects.
The programme targets 200 young people from early adolescence to 29, who will be provided with opportunities for employment or self-employment and will be empowered to take up a leadership role in their communities. The intervention will further benefit twelve communities in Belize City and Cayo District and provide positive alternatives for at least 300 in-school youth.
By engaging local expertise and experience, the project will involve 25 youth associations, schools, youth training providers, local employers and job placement services, creating the potential to reach an additional 2,500 young people.
Why young people? Because at RET we firmly believe that young people are positive actors of social change. They can lead the way out of fragile environments and towards more stable, peaceful and prosperous communities. This is the very beginning of our work in Belize, but we have high hopes of playing a role in the empowerment of vulnerable young people and wish to see them claim their rightful place in society.