One way to describe Concerned Belizeans, Inc (CBI), an organization based in Chicago, is cohesiveness au natural. This word continues to resonate during CBI’s members debriefing celebration held on April 30 in Skokie, Il. The experience in the room was elation. A great vision was realized that is the Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s visit to Chicago was historical, purposeful and successful. Overall a great mission was achieved.
At this meeting all members present would have met the Prime Minister of Belize the Honorable Dean O. Barrow was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Belize on Friday, February 8, 2008. Prime Minister Barrow is an accomplished lawryer. As Prime Minister, Mr. Barrow is “committed to the task of national reconstruction. He is (also) committed to the quick implementation of his party’s reform agenda, providing the right checks and balances, including penalties, and restoring to the people the rightful authority over their elected officials and public officers that a true democracy dictates.”
Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow was welcomed by many prominent dignitaries in the Chicago and Greater Chicago including our Chicago Mayor M. Daley. On April 16, these leaders spent a private moment together at the Mayor’s office being serious as well as fun. Another official who participated in the planned event is Waukegan’s Mayor Robert Sabonjian. In a Waukegan newspaper Mayor Sabonjian said “it was neat, a lot of fun meeting a Prime Minister. You don’t get to do that every day.” Furthermore the Mayor stated that “the city has a pretty good-sized Belize contingent.” As a matter of fact this Waukegan gathering hosted by Carlos Burns of CBI was attended by 200 guests, this newspaper reported. This event demonstrated Belizean’s patriotism to their Prime Minister and their native country.
At this aforementioned event during a Q&A session, I asked the Prime Minister, the following question: An active voice, our culture [being known] are missing for the people of Caribbean descent living in the Midwest that is Chicago, Greater Chicago area, Indiana and St Louis for example, how do we create a valuable partnership in making this dream a reality? Prime Minister Barrow acknowledged our current organizational work and the culture of excellence that is surrounded with however he is willing to participate and create a partnership that will make a difference for our community.
Moreover, Prime Minister Dean Barrow was accompanied by the First Lady Madame Kim Simplis-Barrow and his eloquent cabinet. They are Ambassador Nestor Mendez joined by his spouse Madame Mendez, Honorable Patrick Faber, Minister of Education; Honorable Finnegan, Minister of Housing and Ms. Kendall Balisle, First Secretary to the Embassy of Belize in Washington, DC. At the ceremonial Waukegan luncheon the Minister of Education, Mr. Faber shared his commitment and passion to education and learning. His love for children learning was vividly captured during his visit at the Evanston Township High School. At this meeting a luncheon was held in his honor. It is reported that three Belizean-American students participated at this planned event.
Our Honorary Consul Debbie Schell was the host Consul. She practices immigration law. She is “committed to serving the Belizean community and advancing interest of Belizeans in the Midwest.” Consul Schell was honored to be the host of these three day events of such historical magnitude.
Linsford Pitts CBI’s President, on the other hand, and his Vice-President Leroy Viamille and their devoted as well as determined members rejoiced over their Prime Minister’s visit to Chicago, their success story. Concerned Belizeans Inc’s motto is “working together to make a difference.”
During his speech at the annual CBI’s Black Tie Fundraiser held on Saturday April 17 in River Grove, President Pitts shared with the Prime Minister, his cabinet members, and guests some of the organization’s accomplished goals. One for example is that in 2008, 400 back packs filled with school supplies were hand delivered to eleven Belizean schools, and in 2009 this number had increased to 1600. His voice echoed when he said that one of our organizational goal is “to promote education and to make sure that every child in Belize (is given) the tools to accomplish their dreams.”
As the festivities continued on April 18, Honorable Dean Barrow proudly thanked the performers at the “Public Forum and Children Concert” held in River Grove. The honorable congratulated the dancers, actors and choir performers for a “wonderful program” , first the children, he said. Prime Minister Barrow was astonished to know the Belizean-American dancers have won all of their participating categories. The Garifuna culture presented a lovely dance in their colorful costumes. Prime Minister Dean Barrow culturally expressed that “not all the Caribbean know how to Punta”, a Belizean special dance. Honorable Barrow continues to say that one of his passionate goal is to allocate funding for the Garifuna culture. Prime Minister Dean Barrow concluded by saying “thank you for maintaining fervent patriotism in our country.”
Our joyful Prime Minister Barrow stated as he replied to a question from a young attendee that his visit was “moving exceeding expectations… until the end of my days.” To our Honorable Dean Barrow thank you for sharing your ministry with us, our children. We continue to be thirsty to hear your work thru your inspiration and aspiring cabinet members. Also to all the attendees who travelled to Chicago to eyewitness this historical moment; the organizations who landed their support, the media for capturing this influential time, our Linsford Pitts and Leroy Viamille and the Executive Board of Concerned Belizeans Inc thank you and acknowledge your commitment to a futuristic Caribbean community. Today the Honorable Dean Barrow and his eloquent delegation is now preparing for their visit to Florida in June organized by Concerned Belizeans Inc.
As a child of Haiti, I participated as your media host during this three day event planned by CBI organization. To greet and meet Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the First Lady and his delegation was a “One of a Kind” historical moment. As we continue to connect, islanders will take pride in being unified for a lifetime. Most importantly Prime Minister Dean Barrow looks forward to build a “dynamic partnership platform within the diaspora.”
Excerpt. This article was first published in Pluriel Magazine http://www.plurielmagazine.net August 2010 issue. Click on articles. Refer to Belize Prime Minister visits Chicago pages 35/36.