Posted: Sunday, March 26, 2023. 5:06 pm CST.
By Benjamin Flowers: In Late January, Belizeans at home and in the diaspora were shocked by the sudden death of William Dawson, the head of the Leadership Intervention Unit (LIU) in the Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries. At the recent budget debate, Dawson was honored in Parliament for the work he did in terms of making Belize safer.
Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries Kareem Musa, during his presentation, shifted momentarily from the figures and political rebuttals that form a part of the budget debate, to pay tribute to Dawson’s legacy, calling him both a “patriot” and a “prophet.”
Musa, who was speaking on a marked reduction in the number of murders between 2021 and 2022, said that he could not discuss a reduction in crime and murders without acknowledging the work that Dawson has done to inspire those who had trouble pasts to better themselves.
“Mr. Dawson has left an indelible mark in the minds and hearts of the most marginalized in our country. He gave them hope and inspiration when no one else believed in them,” Musa said.
Musa said that Dawson insisted on calling the unit the LIU because he wanted to disassociate the participants in the interventions from the stigma of the word gang and inspire them to be the leaders in their own communities, steering those younger than them away from lives of crime and violence.
Apart from his work with the LIU, Dawson is fondly remembered for his role as a school teacher and his work at the Wagner’s Youth Facility at the Belize Central Prison, as he dedicated his life to helping youths get a second chance.
Dawson died on January 25 following a brief battle with kidney disease. He was laid to rest after a memorial service at the Mexico Sports Center in Belize City on January 30. In the aftermath of his passing, cease-fires between rival groups held up and there was a noticeable reduction in violence within Belize City.
On March 17, the United Community Alliance, an organization formed by a number of grassroots activists held a peace march in Dawson’s honor, as a reminder of what he meant to those who were trying to break the cycle of violence.
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