January 2013 bore witness to a quadruple murder on Dean Street Belize City. Those deaths gave birth to a community response titled a Day of Healing, where members of the Dean Street and environs got together to hold a day of social engagement and peace in the hope that it would ultimately lead to healing.
Perry 'Stikz' Smith was so influenced by the first event that his conviction led to the creation of the Day of Healing Committee that has replicated these events in different Belize City communities at an approximate rate of once every two months. This effort seeks to rekindle a sense of community and reconciliation in neighbourhoods throughout Belize City. The committee hopes to stem the tide of violence and resulting division of the community by using a bottom up approach that makes the individuals from the community itself become empowered as the main players in their own betterment. Using sports, family games and entertainment performances, an inspiring occasion for neighbours of all ages has been created. Parents and children, police officers and community leaders spend the day interacting in a positive way with each other. Prizes are given to winners and food and drink is given to everyone, as available, free of cost. It is commonplace to see the members of the committee riding through the city on bicycles carrying loads such as crates of chickens, bags of rice, beans and other ingredients as the day of another event draws near.
Speaking with Mr Smith or Stikz proves to be quite enlightening as he possesses both a charismatic and insightful nature. Of course you find this if you are not put off by an initial meeting with him. Stikz is not polished in the way that enables ready access to corporate mixers and he readily owns the fact that he speaks in a manner that is more raw than many people care for. This diamond in the rough is working tirelessly to ensure that younger members of his community shine in their future endeavours. Stikz is a veritable pied piper as he opens the doors of his living quarters known as the "Baby Zinc" to school children who storm his premises to borrow footballs, basketballs and scrimmage goal-posts during the lunch break and after school. He is proud of the fact that these items were secured from UNICEF through RESTORE Belize and he demands accountability from the young people he engages in this manner as they sign in and out each time they borrow or return.
The Day of Healing events are just the beginning of the work that the committee are envisioning. Establishing an urban gardening project and summer camps in city as well as out-district are just some of the objectives of this radical group. Radical in the sense that they grasp the issue at the root of the matter; people are inherently good and want better for themselves but are not always able properly articulate what they need to do to arrive at a preferred destination. Working from within the community after fostering a consistent vested interest is more effective than one group observing another inject funds into a project originating from outside the community. This latter approach can produce a parental sort of relationship or apathy.
RESTORE Belize salutes the efforts of the Day of Healing Committee and their messages of self sufficiency and building the community up from within in a collective manner. Click here to see how UNESCO has made an impact on the Day of Healing events through RESTORE Belize. This Saturday March 29, the Day of Healing is at Taylor's Alley.