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December 4, 2020

My Country called

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Posted: Friday, December 4, 2020. 2:17 pm CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Valentino Shal: I still vividly remember, at about the age of 10, I went to school at the start of the new school year with no shoes. This harsh moment of humiliation put some very big questions in my mind. Why is my family so poor? Why are Maya people so poor? Why is the Toledo District so poor? I resolved within myself then, that one day, when I have children of my own, they will never have to experience the humiliation of poverty. Way back then, I resolved to find a way out for myself, my community and my district.

It became quiet clear to me even way back then that the economy held the key. So when I went to high school I studied Business Administration. I had noticed that people involved in business and trade were not as poor as we were. When I went to Sixth Form, I studied Business Administration. When I went to UCB in Belize City, I studied Business Administration. When I got an opportunity to study in England I focused my studies on Economic Development Policy and the Environment.

Ever since I have been back, I have been working quietly behind the scenes pushing for the development of Belize on a whole. I have participated in almost every sector of the society and economy. I have been to every village in this country. Through hard work, education and sheer persistence, I found a way out for myself. I have since worked for major international institutions and just started to expand my business into the Caribbean.

So why give up a lucrative position in private consulting for a government job? Because this time, it is not about me. There have been lots of improvement in Toledo over the years but compared to the other Districts, it is still way far behind. Additionally, I have seen rural areas of this country neglected and fall behind for the last decade or more. This time I am bringing my knowledge, skills and expertise to work directly on behalf of my fellow Belizeans.

To go from a poor, Maya village boy to a CEO of a government Ministry is a feat for me. Perhaps for others who grow up in political families or who are wealthy this may just be another day. My resolution at 10 years old still stands. We can improve the standard and quality of the lives of our people. To do this we must dream the impossible and through sheer will and persistence, get it done. Lastly, if at least one young person reads this and is inspired to dream the impossible, then it would have been worth it all.

My country called. I responded. I am ready.

(Pic: Myself and my dear friend and mentor, Dr. John Sabella on a trip to Peten, Guatemala, circa 2001)

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