Belize is faced with the most turmoil I can remember since Independence. Some people have predicted a dire future for our youths and country. Sometimes it may appear in the backdrop of a diminished economic climate, wavering values, corruption and a failing justice system the future seems uncertain. However, as long as there is life there is hope. There are people who are fighting for Belize. There are grass root activists in our communities whose work goes unnoticed, unappreciated or under-appreciated.
This month on Twocanview, I want to highlight an unsung Belizean hero, a fighter, an advocate, a mother, grandmother, godmother and second mother to many people who have the opportunity to know her. I would like to introduce you to Ms. June Heusner. A woman I admire immensely and have adopted as my second mother. A woman ions ahead of her time, a trailblazer in her own right.
Ms. June, as she is affectionately known, has that special something. She is a Belizean patriot, She has a passionate love for Belize, she is genuine, she is a fighter and she believes in her causes. She is a community leader, she is respected by just about everyone in my generation and almost every resident of Belmopan has encountered Ms. June Heusner through her many hats she has worn throughout the years.
If you are not from Belmopan, you probably have never heard of Ms. June Heusner. A very jovial, caring, passionate soul; a single mother who successfully raised four daughters on her own and a political secret weapon for the United Democratic Party in Belmopan.
Ms. June was not always the community activist. She was a secretary in the Public Service and a young single mother with 3 daughters. She recalls being a card holding member of the PUP in her teenage years but defected during Heads of Agreement of 1981. Her decision to take a moral and patriotic stand during time and protest the controversial agreement cost Ms. June her job, some associates and friends in Belmopan, a predominantly conservative public service community. It was brave of her to step outside her comfort zone, risk her job security, friends, and future to fight for what she deeply believed in. That moment in Belize’s history sparked something in Ms. June that lives today. Today Belizeans may be faced with a similar quandary with the ICJ vote.
As a community activist, Ms. June’s fulfillment is increasing the quality of life of those around her. She has contributed immeasurably to the youth population in Belmopan. She spearheaded Brownies, the Girl Guides, Rangers, and she formulated the most fun and positive youth group of my generation. She has been on the Board of RECONDEV in Belmopan; Manager of Convention Hotel and today she is manager, owner and operator of “Sunshine” daycare where she has provided and still providing care for hundreds of Belmopan children.
Ms. June’s daughter, Tiffany, recounted fond memories when they were in Brownies, Girl Guides and Rangers. Ms. June would raise funds to take them camping in different places in Belize. They would visit Mountain Pine Ridge, the Caves, Orange Walk, and Corozal. She recalls getting to places in cane trucks and pick up backs…Ms. June had them performing community services and organizing rallies. Ms. June’s energy was endless and positive.
I recall in my teenage days in Belmopan, Ms. June would have us painting the hospital, tree stumps, planting, beautifying Belmopan; visiting Salvapan (now Maya Mopan), when it was nothing but a trail into bushes, so we could to help families who were destitute. My first summer job was working with Ms. June. Every year as a teenager, Ms. June would take our youth group to St. George’s Caye for an unforgettable Easter week. Ms. June would raise funds; reach out to just about every person she knew to make the trip happen. One year we went to Belize City in a big dump truck, and then one of her fishermen brothers took us out to the Cayes. Out at the Cayes, we had no running water, no toilets, no electricity, no stove or refrigerator- and it was the best week of our lives. Writing this piece I realize Ms. June kept quite a few youths involved in so many projects that we did not have time to become bored and menaces.
In 1992 Ms. June introduced me to the political arena, a place I find much fascination. She had me on the campaign trails, attending conventions, speeches, and going door-to-door campaigning. Her energy and drive is contagious. The small unprofessional team worked hard and planned their campaign strategy while I listened with amazement. It felt like a race, the rush of being involved. This campaign trail experience was priceless. Our candidate won by one vote.
Ms. June is a straight shooter and has gained the trust of many who reach out to her for her advice. I believe she was pivotal in John Saldivar winning the General Election of 2012. Many Belmopan residents I spoke to see John as arrogant and aloof, but Ms. June counters that with a proven trust she has earned in different sectors in the Belmopan Community over her many years of community activism. I recall on election night I was sitting in Belmopan at Ms. June’s house as she celebrated the win of the UDP. That night, John became unreachable by phone, John did not take the time that night to thank her or her campaign team, immersed deeply in his victory I guess.
Speaking to Ms. June, she utters some disappointments in the way she is treated at times but she remains a faithful soldier to the cause. I would tease Ms. June and tell her that she should be living in a big house, with lots of money- but I know Ms. June does not do what she does for personal gain. She has children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. A future of opportunities is what she wants for her children. Ms. June also believes that women are important in our society. Women raise children and are the hallmark of many families; a woman’s self-esteem is key to providing a strong family unit and building our future in Belize.
Ms. June taught me very important lessons. The love of Belize is key to build it; youths are important and they can make a difference, the love of people regardless of their standing in society, and spirit of perseverance. Ms. June never expects anything in return and for the most part, she gets nothing tangible. However, Ms. June beams with pride when any of her hundreds of kids achieves, or make a difference in society; she bawls when any of her kids passes away, like Keino recently.
I have tremendous admiration for Ms. June Heusner. In our society we don’t realize the people who are always doing for the simple fact that they are always doing. We don’t realize their impact because they continue to silently toil; we don’t appreciate their efforts because we don’t care; we don’t say thank you because we think they are obligated. Well thank you Ms. June Heusner for all you have contributed to Belmopan, you are appreciated and loved by many who know you. Irrespective of your political, religious or social leanings, you can make an impact in your community and Ms. June proves it daily. “A small act of kindness is more powerful than a thousand bowed head in prayers.