Started Working in Belize
Direct Beneficiaries & Program Participants
(Women & Girls)
Indirect Beneficiaries & Program Participants
Since 2015, RET has directly supported more than 4.5 K direct beneficiaries in Belize, 54% of them are vulnerable women & girls throughout 9 projects focused on Protection (Child protection, Gender-based Violence, and Refugee & asylum seekers International Protection), Democracy & Governance (Youth Empowerment & Youth Civic Engagement); Economic Growth & development (Business Development & Entrepreneurship; Vocational Training and Livelihoods.) Since 2015, RET has conducted operations in Belize City, Cayo District, and Stann Creek.
The Situation in Belize
Belize is a Central American country neighboring the region, usually referred to as the Northern Territories, comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The people fleeing from the latter countries seek refugee protection against violence in their own countries, linked mainly to gang activities, exacerbated by the drug route forcing itself through Central America. Many of the refugees are vulnerable women and children taking this journey out of desperation, to flee violence and, in particular, gender-based violence. Belize, so close to this epicenter of the crisis, is host to those seeking asylum. Accordingly, Belize shows a high unemployment rate and low secondary school attendance rates, creating the requisite conditions for similar violence to take hold and leaving youth to face a real lack of opportunities.
Since October 2015, RET began its operations in Belize with interventions centered in Belize City and the Cayo District, aiming to reduce the risk of youth engagement in criminal activities by building employment and leadership opportunities through income-generating opportunities for vulnerable youth. The programs focused on providing youth with skills and capacities to become employed or self-employed and enable them to take up leadership roles in their communities, therefore becoming positive social change actors. The holistic approach to working with youth showed a positive impact by increasing the number of youth associations and youth-led organizations in the communities. RET worked with national organizations to develop a national program that addresses the socio-economic, psychosocial, and educational challenges of vulnerable youth, families, and communities. Moreover, RET in Belize provided job creation opportunities for youth and marginalized communities as an alternative to crime and violence and provided at-risk youth with productive alternative activities that increase their leadership skills, apprenticeship, and income-generating opportunities.
Moreover, RET was actively involved in protection projects to develop the government’s capacity and strengthen civil society for timely, transparent responses to Gender-based violence (GBV) and trafficking in persons (TIP) in vulnerable communities in Belize. RET enhanced community service providers’ capacity to assist women and youth at risk of GBV and referred them to legal services. It also created a “Resource and Reference Guide” to enhance access to services, build capacity development of key frontline responders and public education officials, in tandem with raising awareness in the affected communities on the mentioned issues. RET also strengthened civil society’s capacity to monitor service delivery for accountability and transparency.
Finally, RET implemented an awareness campaign for full participation in the Referendum on the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute. Young participants developed user-friendly documentation to support the national public campaign on the International Court of Justice Referendum.
RET’s experience in Belize is strengthened through successful coordination with the local government, the civil society organizations, the non-profit associations, in addition to the social actors to improve service delivery and create a significant impact, amongst them are: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (donor), Belize History Association, Department of Youth Services and the National Youth Council, the National Library Services and the House of Culture and the History Association.
Department of Youth Services (DYS): RET engaged DYS at the district level to support youths’ engagement in school and out-of-school.
Collaboration at the Youth Jamboree provided DYS with an opportunity to share about their work and make connections for youth to access the spaces and services available at the DYS district youth centers. RET was able to engage the DYS at the district level in Cayo to recruit vulnerable youths and actively participated in the Mentorship Training process.
Belize Action Community (BAC): In partnership with BAC, RET implemented the skills training in Carpentry, Concrete Finishing, Woodworks, and Agripreneur for 29 youths in Southern Belize.
Productive Organization for Women in Action (POWA): a strategic partnership was formed with POWA for the selection, assessment, education, and empowerment of youth participating specifically in the Livelihoods. The collaboration resulted in the inclusion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence sessions with youth, in response to the high prevalence of these issues in the district.
Belize Association of Principals (BAPs): this partnership was strategic for the buy-in and support of the targeted high schools for piloting the Youth Leadership Program linked to the Positive Youth Development Program.
High Schools in Belize City, Cayo and Stann Creek: 8 High Schools in Belize City, Cayo and Stann Creek (Nazarene High School, Maud Williams High School, Sadie Vernon High School, Our Lady of Guadalupe RC High School, Valley of Peace SDA Academy, Delille Academy, Georgetown Technical High School, and Independence High School) collaborated in the implementation of RET Leadership and Community Engagement Program, including the implementation of Quick Impact Projects with the in-school populations. School management and Life Skills teachers participated in and supported the implementation of this program.
Additionally, Independence High School and Georgetown Technical High School allowed the use of their spaces for the Leadership Summer Camp and the Leadership Forum.
Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture (MOEYSC): Through the Teacher’s Education and Development Services (TEDS) and the Secondary Schools Support Unit, RET received an endorsement for the Youth Leadership Program as a support to the Positive Youth Development Life Skills Program.
Small Business Development Centre (SBDC Belize): This collaboration was developed to support the implementation and delivery of Business Development training sessions. The engagement provides RET youth participants with access to technical support beyond the life of the project. Additionally, youth participants will automatically become a part of the SBDC Belize family and access funding opportunities and scholarships.
Cayo Centre for Employment Training (CCET) and St. Ignatius High School and Adult Education (SIHSAE): a triangular collaboration between RET and these two institutions in Cayo provided vulnerable youths the opportunity to attend the Adult Education Program at SIHSAE, which includes vocational training at CCET. CCET and SIHSAE participated in the assessment process to better understand the selected youths’ socio-economic and family challenges.
San Ignacio / Santa Elena Town Council and Business Community: RET coordinated with these stakeholders for a better understanding of the services available, the expectations for job placements, the gaps in skills. These discussions helped RET to provide informed guidance and support to youths in this district.
National Women’s Commission (NWC): Main/key partner in implementing the RET-CARSI project. NWC provided coordination, administrative and technical support to both the National and District Committees. The Secretariat led by the Executive Director coordinated all activities related to integrating the National Gender Policy across sectors and levels and the coordination within state and non-state actors on issues related to gender equality and equity and women’s empowerment.
Association of Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of the Supreme Court: A primary/key partner in bridging the gap between municipal and community level to provide legal advice and support to community members, particularly women and youth, victims, or at-risk for GBV and TIP.
Ministry of Human Development Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation: RET’s collaboration and engagement with the Ministry across several departments improved the success and buy-in of interventions, building civil society partnerships and impactful engagement of key international and local support towards the community development and access to services.
Additionally, strong relations were established with the Refugees Department of Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development and Immigration, the National Association of Village Councils (NAVCO), and District Association of Village Councils (DAVCO).
Shelters with Adequate Functioning for an Effective response to human trafficking in Belize (SAFE Belize) 2021-2025
The proposed intervention aims to build the institutional capacity of existing and potential shelters through the elaboration of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), advocacy actions, and an awareness campaign, resulting in improved and more significant response to Human Trafficking (HT) victims in Belize. RET will develop a bottom-up strategy to create the SOP to be discussed and validated with the Government of Belize and identify and support newly organized groups that can help counter Human Trafficking by focusing on target groups and service deliverers as the actual policy implementers.
RET will lead a strategy that will allow 30 representatives of GoB/CS and the three existing shelters to jointly engage in discussions to develop the SOP. Subsequently, 80 shelter staff and frontline workers (Community Advocates, Defense and Police Forces, Custom and Immigration Officers) will be trained on the SOP to assist better and support HT victims. Once the SOP is created and validated, three potential new shelters (organized/advocacy groups) will be identified to formally become shelters for HT victims. Consequently, members of different NGOs, CSOs, and CBOs will receive training and support on the procedures to become a shelter and on the SOP package; the GoB will be represented through officers from the A-TIPS Council, Women’s Department and the Domestic Violence Unit. A Task Force Group will be created to guarantee collaborative actions counter HT at the national level. Finally, an HT public education campaign will be conducted, directly sensitizing people and guaranteeing that at least 50% of them commit to taking action, pledging to advocate against HT.
The project, implemented between July 2021 and June 2025, is funded by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons of the United States Department and implemented by RET in Belize.
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RET Youth Ambassadors in Belize: empowering capacities to reduce Gender Based Violence incidences and respond to community challenges– 2021
The project aimed to increase the resilience of young people in Belize by empowering their capacities related to Mental Health, Gender Equality and Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Young people were trained through a collaborative and youth-centred approach led by RET according to its institutional youth methodology. The training enabled the creation of a group of young leaders, which led and organized awareness raising activities in their communities.
The young leaders group in Belize was related to the RET Youth Ambassadors Group (YAG) at global level. A total of 80 youth were directly reached by the project and up to 500 people by the awareness campaign and activities led by the youth. The group created through this intervention will become a communitybased actor that will contribute to respond to specific challenges and issues in their communities in the Belize district, namely: Double Head Cabbage, Rancho
Dolores and Scotland Halfmoon. The process will empower youth as capable agents of change in Belize by addressing the protection needs of the population in the country, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the containment measures increased their vulnerability. A newly youth-led group/network was formed, “Helping Hands Youth Council” which is now a community-based actor created to respond to multiple challenges in the three communities in the Belize District.
This project, implemented between September 2020 and September 2021, was funded by the Canadian Government, Canada Fund for Local Initiatives and implemented by RET in Belize.