Saturday, July 20, 2024

U.S. Embassy Joins Community Activists to Unveil Peace Mural in Southside Belize City


On April 27, 2023 U.S. Ambassador Michelle Kwan joined reformed formal rival gang members from four communities in Southside Belize City for the painting of a community mural, marking the successful close of a U.S. Embassy-funded program to support sustainable and equitable economic development in underserved communities.
The Empowering Communities to Empower Themselves (ECTET) initiative was launched in 2020 in partnership with the Love Foundation and expanded to four neighborhoods in Southside Belize City. The program helped former gang members learn business skills and formally register their businesses, while also participating in conflict resolution and mediation training. As part of the program’s culmination activities, ECTET participants from formal rival gangs in the Yarborough, St. Martin’s, George Street, Jump Street, and Rocky Road neighborhoods came together to erect a “Peace Wall” mural that symbolizes a pledge to peace and collective prosperity.
Ambassador Kwan underscored, “We know that reintegration into society after incarceration can be difficult, but the Peace Wall being unveiled today represents hope for a better future. Over the past three years, we have been proud to see our program help former gang members become reintegrated into their communities by becoming drivers of neighborhood economic growth, and in the process create stronger, safer, and more prosperous communities.”
Four community hubs have been created through the ECTET program since 2020, which have provided employment and conflict-resolution training to over 150 participants. The ECTET hubs have launched thriving businesses in auto repair, auto-detailing, water filtration, gardening, and retail, which continue to provide economic opportunities to underserved communities.

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