“Why are you trying so hard to help me finish high school? I am going to die.”


The number of young people involved in crime is increasing rising in Belize. The primary cause of this worrying trend is the high dropout rate of students after elementary school. Many young children return home elementary school and often suffer from hunger and lack of familial support. In this environment they become easy prey for criminals who pressure them to rob, sell drugs, or even kill. Their vibrant youth is stolen from them, and they are often driven to imprisonment or even death.

Cherene Rivero is one of the many educators who believe that education is the key to fighting violence. She puts this belief into practice by leading a youth development program, as well as training counselors and teachers across the country to teach important life skills to this vulnerable population. This holistic approach focuses on positive reinforcement and is already transforming the lives of many young people who decide to dream hard and work hard.



It is believed that Belize is named after a river. While English is the country’s official language, the recent influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants is rapidly changing the diverse population structure, where native Spanish speakers already comprise a large percentage. While about 16% of Belizeans live abroad, 15% of immigrants from neighboring countries constitute part of the country’s population, accounting for an increasing share of Belize's population growth rate.


  • • Population: 351,700
  • • 17% of the population lives below the poverty line.
  • • The homicide rate is 34 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, lower than other Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
  • • 48.3% of women in Belize participate in the workforce, compared with 81.8% of men.
  • • 50% of students drop out before finishing high school.
  • • 40% of youth under 15 live in poverty, and 24% of all crimes in Belize are committed by these disadvantaged youth.