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‘Powered by inclusion’: Belize City’s disabled have a new means of getting around

Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2022. 9:39 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: From the inauguration of the Disability Desk within the Women’s Affairs Department of the Ministry of Human Development, it had been one of coordinator Marshall Nunez’s dreams to obtain a wheelchair-accessible van to help fellow disabled persons become more mobile.

Nunez, himself visually disabled, realized that dream on Wednesday when the bus was unveiled before a selection of disabled persons and their supporters at the office of donor and business process outsourcing agency Customer HD on Coney Drive.

As he explained, “This bus is the property of the government of Belize, but more important than that, it is the property that will assist persons who are living with disability across this country. It is really a distinct honor to have this handing over here today. I am absolutely excited because our people with disability are going to benefit from it tremendously. Earlier, I mentioned NEMO [National Emergency Management Organization]. When there is a pending storm, the bus will be fully commandeered by NEMO because we have to be very cognizant of transporting and evacuating people who are living with disability. There is a process, we are working right now in trying to come up with a database so we can geo map the people who need it, inclusive of identifying the shelters that are accessible with the ramps and wheelchair accessible bathrooms. But that is a part of the ongoing plan.” Nunez also chairs NEMO’s sub-committee on disability support.

Nunez told Deputy Mayor Micah Goodin and Councilor with responsibility for Families and Children as well as disability Natasha Pipersburgh, present on behalf of City Hall, that he would write seeking permission for the bus to be used on an assigned route once a week to help disabled persons get around to chores on that day and get back home. He mentioned that each municipal council now has a portfolio dealing with disability support; coincidentally, all the assigned councilors to these portfolios are women.

Jonathan Keane, co-founder of Customer HD said their commitment to helping disabled persons starts right at the top with partner Joseph Schmidt: “For both Joe and I, there is a strong link to persons and children with disabilities and one of our goals is to demonstrate that in our company. So, it was really a privilege for us to meet Marshall Nunez and Evan Cowo. When we asked him what his priority was, he mentioned that it was a wheelchair accessible van. We didn’t hesitate to discuss and approve it; I can remember the conversation on the way home. We were both very excited about it. Impact is very important to us at Customer HD and what we can truly do to help people and that’s what excited us the most about this.”

Minister of Human Development Dolores Balderamos Garcia, accompanied by Special Envoy for Families and Children Rossana Briceno, received the donation and gave thanks, noting, “We are moving now from just awareness. We’re actually moving to implementation, to working and living, to help all our people with disabilities and that is why this donation is so very, very important.”

 

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