The Cuban Embassy hosted a farewell event for students who are leaving Belize to pursue studies in Cuba. The students were selected from a pool of about seventy applicants to form a part of this y ear’s cohort of the CUBA-CARICOM programme through which Cuba provides scholarships to citizens of its sister nations of the Caribbean Community. Students from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have benefitted from this program. The lucky Belizeans who will study for several years in Cuba were selected by a panel of the ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs and Health, along with representatives of the Embassy of Cuba. News Five attended today’s farewell and Andrea Polanco has more:
Thirteen students will be pursuing studies in Medicine, Dentistry and Health Technologies in Cuba through the CUBA-CARICOM scholarship programme. The students will be studying at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) for a well-rounded educational experience. Upon the completion of their studies, the students are expected to return to Belize to work in their respective fields.
H.E Lissette Perez, Ambassador of Cuba to Belize
“The most important thing is the transformation of the students. Not only because they will become doctors and other professionals, they have to increase themselves and become better persons. And this is the objective of the school to not only increase the professional skills, but also the values for the students. That is the difference of the Escuela Latina Americana de Medicina in Cuba.”
“It is the intention that they study and return home to work in the medical field here?”
H.E Lissette Perez
“Yes. This is one of the principles from the beginning of the school to return to their communities to help their communities, even the rural areas; to increase the number of doctors in the areas where probably you don’t have now. It is the intention of the project.”
Hiram Gongora and Ashanti Navarette are two of the scholarship recipients. Hiram will be pursuing a dentistry degree, while Ashanti will study hygiene and epidemiology.They will be enrolled in studies for at least five years in Cuba, but they say they are up for the challenge.
Hiram Gongora, Scholarship Recipient
“For me, this is a very humbling opportunity to be one of the few people to be chosen out of the very large amount that applied. It is a great opportunity for my family to have someone that will eventually be a dentist.”
Ashanti Navarette, Scholarship Recipient
“I see myself working in Belmopan at the Epi Unit, working alongside the epidemiologist that we have here, helping them battling the diseases that might come to Belize in the future.”
“Why dentistry? Because in Dangriga, well, the south, we are limited with dentist and with me coming back there I will give the growing population more options to choose from.”
“Is this like a life-long dream that you’ve had – to be a dentist?”
“Yes, ma’m. Actually I have been planning to study for dentistry for a very good while. And then it so happened that I was chosen and got this opportunity. I am very humbled and grateful for it.”
“I am up for it. The sacrifice is worth the benefits in the end. I am hoping that I come back ready to work and to the best of my abilities.”
“From what I have heard in Cuba is that it is very tough. But I think it depends on you the person and I am willing to adjust and sacrifice for it.”
There are sixty Belizeans presently studying in Cuba through the CUBA-CARICOM program. The scholarship program started some twenty years ago, under the leadership of late Cuba President Fidel Castro.
H.E Lissette Perez
“This is the Cuban contribution in the south-south cooperation. This is our humble contribution but it is very huge because it create human resources to help people, countries. It is a symbol of solidarity and as brotherhood. Because we feel that the whole region we are brother and sister and that we can share what we have especially in the area of medicine and other specialties sector.”
Andrea Polanco, edition.channel5belize.com
August 25, 2017