What is the Hopkins Demarcation Project?
Hopkins Village is surrounded by other Communities and their expansion into Hopkins territory threatens the future development of the Community and the survival of the Garifuna Cultural Heritage which depends on land to exist. Dangriga Town is located at Northern end of the community and Commerce Bight 'Yugadah' which was and is Historically used and settled by the Garifuna people in Hopkins Belize.
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The Hopkins Demarcation Project is a PIDCO project Funded by the CICA
The Village of Hopkins has been pursuing Demarcation (Boundary Definition) for the Past two years and is convinced that it is of strategic importance to the local population.
When one considers the natural assets of the community or village, demarcation becomes a necessity due to the fact that most of the land that surround the community has been sold to foreign investors or fallen subject to local greed. This effectively steals the future from the youth which propels anti-social behavior and retards the locals’ ability to increase equity in Belize.
Therefore there is a need to define the geographic space that the village is responsible for so that it can make plans to preserve some of the natural and cultural heritage of the Hopkins area. While at the same time ensure a sustainable future for the local people of Hopkins and preserve the Belizean identity.
The PIDCOs are the result of a process that the central American and indigenous Council (Consejoindigena de Cenrtoamerica-CICA) has been working on in its struggle to defend and promote indigenous rights in an effort to achieve well-being and cultural development in the indigenous communities throughout central America.
The Desire on the part of the people of Hopkins Belize to define their geographical boundries and advance the discussion on the Land Rights of the Garifuna People in Belize was a perfect project that fits with the mission of CICA.This project which was proposed and is now lead by the Young adults in the community is more than a project that got funded and has continued through the difficult political atmosphere. It has Managed to gather support from people like Dr. Joseph Palacio (Well Know Garifuna Historian), Mr. Sal Marin (Land Survey Expert) and recently the Ministry of Rural Development.
The National Garifuna Council was also Generous to offer itself as the Administrator of the grant making it possible for the money to be released to the people of Hopkins.
How is the Project Managed?
The Project Which was proposed under the Umbrella of BENIC (Belize National Indigenous Council) which is the Local organization responsible for all PIDCOs in Belize worked closely with the people of Hopkins in a number of Workshops to draft the proposal that made the case for the demarcation of the Village.
In those same workshops a number of decisions were made; an Hopkins demarcation steering committee consisting of 12 members was elected by those that were present. The steering commitee was to be responsible for the management of the project.
In subsequent meetings the same said steering committee appointed a delegation of six members that would be responsible for attending meetings outside of the village, lobby government to move the project forward, to gather geographical data, and manage the logistics of the project.
List of People in the Delegation of 6
4. Francis Lewis ( Former Chairman Hopkins Village Council)
Most of the members in the six member delegation soon became too busy to attend meetings due to different obligations that included police recruitments, teaching responsibilities and other project commitments.
This caused a delay and the steering committee decided that it was time to appoint a consultant that will be paid to move the project forward and to ensure that the finance which has been made available through BENIC from CICA and administered by NGC was not lost.
Ted Mckoy was appointed to be the consultant in charge of the project. Mr.Mckoy was able to ensure that the project continued and moved the project forward. Taking the project from the planning stage which was done by BENIC and constructing a strategy for implementation and executing meetings for further consultations with community members and asking advice as the project forward.
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