Posted: Monday, June 8, 2020. 3:29 pm CST.
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CONTRIBUTED: American author Tim Fargo once said, “Leadership is service, not position.” Belizeans have seen the truth in Fargo’s words lived out through great patriots such as the Rt. Hon. George Price, Antonio Soberanes, and Dr. Jane Usher. These names and many others are remembered throughout Belize and in various parts of the world for a common personality trait: a selfless desire to have a positive impact on the lives of the people they encounter.
Councilors of the Belize City Council know the call of service well, being entrusted with the upkeep of the most densely populated municipality in the country, but it is in the position of service that Councillor Aisha Gentle is in her element. Gentle, the councillor responsible for markets, citizen engagement, parks and beautification, comes from a life of service to others which culminated in her decision to run for municipal politics as a means of expanding her ability to help others.
Born and raised on the south side of Belize City in the Port Loyola area, Gentle, attended Sister Clara Muhammad Muslim Primary School, Canaan SDA High School, and gravitated towards service even within her academic career when she took a certificate course in nursing. The desire to help others would guide her professional decisions as well, leading her to take on positions at the Belize Red Cross and part-time roles at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.
But that desire extended beyond her academic and professional life. As a member of Beautiful Beginnings Church, located in the Jane Usher Boulevard area, Gentle was involved in missionary works within her community. Later she became a community advocate, and hosted numerous activities such as sporting events in the area, to benefit community members and attempt to foster a deeper connection with them.
Gentle explained that when she finally decided to get involved in politics, she already had the trust and support of her community members given all the initiatives she had been involved in over the years.
“Everybody has a manifesto, the list of promises that you campaign on. The part that I love about it is that you’re able to excel, you’re able to fulfill your promises. When they put their trust in you and you deliver…there’s no greater feeling,” Gentle said.
The desire to deliver visible results also helped Gentle to excel in her portfolio as the Councillor with responsibility for the market, she ensured that improvements were completed at the Michael Finnegan Market; such as upgrades to the market booths, needed renovations to the drains and building extensions for vendors namely the meat shop that is housed over the canal. As the market continues to grow and expand, the councillor is working on an initiative to rebrand the market.
During her tenure at the council, the council has partnered with various entities for park adoption such as BTL. Recently, the upgrading and adoption of Fred Westby Park on Albert Street was completed in partnership with Diversified Life Solutions. Additionally, the council is working on the Ring Road Park in the Lake Independence area, which will establish a recreational space for the children in the community before the current mandate of this city council ends. Under her watch the council upgraded and maintained parks all over the city, which included the landscaping, painting, and repairs of the facilities in those parks.
In 2019, Councillor Gentle through her Citizen Engagement portfolio, spearheaded a citywide Easter Cheer initiative to well deserving children in the city. A total of 2000 Easter Baskets were distributed among all primary schools.”
Gentle is also a part of the “Above the Rim” initiative which promotes positive interactions with various communities through sports.
Like the rest of the world, much of the work of the council was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; however, Gentle said that the difficulties resulting from COVID-19 are obstacle tests to prove the council’s and her own resolve to be of service to the people.
“It’s been challenging but at the end of the day we have to adapt and still deliver and do our work,” Gentle said. “They have trusted us, so we have to deliver the best and we will continue to deliver the best.”
She added that in lieu of sporting events, the council formed a Whatsapp group to engage participants, speaking on matters of sports, and also getting their thoughts on initiatives that will need to be considered after the pandemic passes.
Gentle said that at the council level plans are being made for such initiatives but that several considerations need to be made when planning ahead, such as the continued need for mask use and social distancing, but remains hopeful that sports will continue to be a means to positively bring Belizeans from all walks of life together.
Gentle also said that it is her hope to continue serving Belize City as a councillor, but will regardless ensure to continue a life of service no matter what the future holds for her political career.
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