Posted: Friday, November 27, 2020. 9:41 am CST.
By BBN Staff: The United States Embassy in Belize is highlighting Derrick Velazquez as its community spotlight for November.
Derrick was honorably discharged from the Belizean Forces in 1986 and went on to get an associate degree in liberal arts at Los Angeles Trade and Technical College and a BA in philosophy with a minor in mathematics at California State University.
After working for the US Probation Department for 22 years, Derrick decided to return to Dangriga and give back to his community.
Realizing that the Dangriga community wasn’t being represented in its entirety, Derrick founded Southern Belize Media (SOBEL) in October of 2019.
SOBEL Media is a grassroots platform that acts as an alternative media platform addressing a broad spectrum of issues such as education, employment, and health affecting the Garifuna, Maya, Mestizo, and Creole populations in Dangriga.
Due to their proximity to the community, SOBEL Media is able to have reach and access to information that other media outlets might not otherwise have. As such, the goal of SOBEL Media is to cover news in a comprehensive way and to relay it to the rest of the country.
Since the founding of SOBEL Media, Derrick has overseen the reporting of water distribution issues, recent elections, and weather systems such as hurricanes, floods and the necessary precautions that should be taken by the public. They even reported on various sporting events, prior to COVID-19, among other things.
SOBEL Media has also been very engaged with the community in regard to COVID-19.
They have been airing commercials regarding public health and safety. They have also partnered with various institutions to facilitate virtual graduations and released the SOBEL media platform in order to aid the community, students, and teachers.
Derrick is thankful to his team and other organizations for making this possible and hopes to expand the network’s reach in Belize as well as work towards obtaining NGO status in order to expand full-time staff and equipment to make more of an impact.
As a young media source, they have encountered various difficulties but Derrick is determined to rise above them in order to continue assisting and raising awareness about his community.
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