Thursday, May 2, 2013

Another Inspiring Individual


In the past, I have observed Silk Grass as one of the rougher areas...this was mostly a too quick judgement on my part. I based this judgement on a group of tough looking guys in the grocery store. Sorry Silk Grass. I should really know better than to form an opinion of a village by it's idiots. I was very wrong. In the past few days I have had the pleasure of making acquaintance of some other Silk Grass residents. I was talking with a policeman who is currently assigned there. He told stories of his two years as an officer in Belize City that would make your hair stand on end. He was the law...and HE was shot at more than once. After he was transferred away from Belize City, he worked for several years in my new hometown, Dangriga. He was happier with his post there. (He was not ever shot at...I guess that is a better gig.) Yet he also said that since he was given post in Silk Grass, he doesn't even drive to Dangriga. The two towns are minutes apart, and Dangriga offers shopping, restaurants, and is considerably larger than Silk Grass. He is happy in HIS village. This officer grew up in Silk Grass and is proud to say that under his watch, there is no real crime to speak of. He admitted that sometimes on Friday nights the fella's will get druck or rowdy, but maintains that there is a sense of security and community for him and his fellow villagers. Nice.

So...I was surprised to find out that Odis is running for Town Council Chairman! I have known Odis since my first few days here, and he is very charismatic. He is the bartender at the little eco lodge where Sean is the chef. So I have had several occasions sitting at the bar and talking to Odis while I enjoy his FRESH pina coladas! (No mixes here...use the fruit!...and we've already spoken about the rum in Belize...YUM!...Pina Colada!) Anyway...I had no idea Odis was running! He is just 30 years old so he is the youngest on the ballot. His platform consists of providing electricity and water service to one of the poorer areas of his village. He plans to do this by working closely with Central Government. But if he is unable to get the assistance the village needs through the government, he is prepared to look outside of Belize for funding. He mentioned Unicef, and several other charities who might possibly assist him with the $10K it would take to provide fresh water to his villagers. He said that some of the older politicians have let this project fall by the wayside as the people who live in this area have immigrated from Mexico or Guatemala. He said that with the small amount of funds the village works with, the Naturalized Belizeans have been placed behind those citizens who were born here. While he understands (and to a point agrees) with this thinking...Odis went further. His thought now is that the children of the immigrants...young children and babies...ARE natural born Belizeans and as such have the same right to the limited funds as anyone. Way to see the big picture Odis!

If elected, Odis will also have the responsibility of allotting some government land. His plan for the acreage is to divide it into house lots and give the lots to natural born Belizean families to start their lives. He recognizes that there is currently an influx of "rich expats" who will dangle money in front of the villagers to but their home lots for dirt cheap. So he plans to include a clause prohibiting the sale of the lot for 10 or 20 years. Again...BIG Big Picture Odis!

He would also like to revitalize the sports area in Silk Grass. He has already replaced the backboards at the basketball hoops, even before the election! (At 6ft 4in he's one of the tallest Belizeans I've ever met...kinda' of a hoops ringer. lol) But the point is...Odis is putting it out there. He's making a real effort to change his village's future! He has called a public meeting so that the villagers can hear from him and the other's who are running before they vote. He said that this meeting is unusual to the extent that it may be the first of it's kind in Silk Grass. Go ODIS!

Anyway...Although I would vote for Odis...I'm new in these parts and can not. He IS the youngest running, and that could work against him. He is finding out some things about his 54 year old running mate, his vice chairperson, that have him questioning if he picked the right guy. So the odds are sort of stacked against him... I'm hopeful though. And I surely will let you all know how it turns out after the election May 29th...I think it's the 29th...end of May.

As I said, I have known Odis a while. So when we were talking about the sports, I was comfortable asking him the tough question. I told him that there is somewhat of an attitude among the expats that to donate things is almost impossible! They say that if they want to bring in gently used sports equipment, often the Chairperson of the village also expects a cash donation. Some people would happily give their used equipment, but don't have money for payola. Odis was not offended and answered my question in a well spoken respectable manner. He said that although he has heard of similar situations, situations where 5 computers are donated and only one ever shows up for the town to use...That HE and HIS family already have everything they could need. They own 5 houses, and can get their OWN computers. He said he will gratefully accept donations if someone is generous enough to send them. Big picture Odis...Inspired!

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