Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BIO of an Activists



 Posted June 26th, 2013



Born 5th December, 1973, my mom explained to me that she did not think I would live in my early years, as I was in and out of the hospital. I remember going to the clinic for the old hospital and discovering that they had left something in a stomach scars to fester. Luckily, they got it in time. I can remember, years ago, the many times in high school, I rushed home from St. John's College to fine my father cooking so that I could get something to eat and rush back in time for classes for 1:00 o'clock. I remember, one particular time, reaching home, to fine my father right hand bleeding from a large cut and still cooking so I could have something to eat. The reason he had the cut was because he fell off his bike dropped a ketchup bottle and fell on one of the pieces of broken glasses from the bottle. He did not have a car, but used a bicycle to get around. I simply walked back and forth to school. To this day, I hate cars.

Overcoming obstacles have been part of my growing up, if it was not years of respiratory ill-health, it was navigating normal sibling rivalry that I thought was unnecessary at the time. The point is mute as my brother Drew Ozaeta died from Hutchinson Lymphoma-a cancer related to the lymphatic system and my other brother, I told him, " if your wife kicked you out the house, no call! If she you are jailed, no call!" and so on and on. It was later that I found out that my brother was married with three children, whom, to my surprise he named one of his sons Caleb. Over time, I had watched my father deteriorated from a healthy mobile man to a person who could barely walk on his legs to not at all. He used to use a blue wheelchair and sit downtown to hustle to bring food home to the family, until he got sick and I called the ambulance to take him to the hospital. Three days before that, I had a dream that he would be hospitalized, I just did not know how real the dream would become. I remember vividly, how, I was asked to go on a bus for Minister Faith Babb, as they were reading the Sexual Harassment Bill. Upon getting on the bus, I felt nauseous and a insistent need to return home. When I got home, I found my father shaking, a hauntingly repeated moment that reflected a dream. that followed a process, of calling the ambulance and 45 days later my father died. Interestingly enough, on the day he died I was on a bus on my way to Belmopan to a Youth Camp, but half way through the bus ride, I felt his aura leave him, thinking nothing of it, we arrived at the 4H compound, one hour later after arriving, was told they could not pay me. I simply knew he had died without anyone telling me. When I arrived home, I did not need anyone to tell. 

I found out while he was alive that a cotton was left in his bed sore that festered until it rotten to the bone. He eventually died from osteomyelitis and blood poisoning. I was to give blood, but could not give blood because I was "risky." On the day of his burial, only when sand touched the funeral box, did I realized he died. Interestingly enough, right after his burial, my uncle and his family crashed into a tree. They we alright though. The entire family was so out of it after that, that we all went dancing the same night. Coping is a process, as I accepted his death only after watching a superman series where Superman almost lost Lois Lane. This was when I had time to breakdown, for but a moment, for just me, because I lost a father.

I seems the name Caleb means something, as I found out it meant, " Servant of the Lord," "courageous" and  "dog." When I started high school, I was awkward, a clown, but matured into an intelligent, observant mind because of a natural tendency to seek self-improvement. I fought homophobes infront of Nazarene High school who sought to make an example out of me. I called out the biggest one and we fought again in the middle of Central American Boulevard, his name was GI Joe. I fought bullies in primary school, like, Kevin Cadle and then again in front of St. Johns High School. Years later, I would meet Kevin at the Hostel, reformed, more educated and more affirming of himself and me. My anger melted, as I realized the many painful issued he was dealing with. Eventually, we became friends enough that he invited me to his wedding in Orange Walk. How could I not say yes?

High school was about being self-deprecating, being focus and self-driven. When I needed to sell pints to meet my 12:00 o'clock meal I did so, when it was about taking out the cafeteria trash, I did so and got the left over Dario's meat pies to bring home. I saw my grade move up from C's to B's. In 4th Form, I managed to get my CXC's paid for by working Summer with Father Stochl of SJC. I eventually paid all the CXC's back and got into 6th Form. I must note that I was part of the Junior Achievement program, we were suppose to elect a Board for the class company and I wanted VP of marketing, 8 times the class voted and 8 times I failed to get the job, eventually, I stuck it out, took over the job by default and won a trip to the JA International conference at the University of Indiana in 1992. The experience taught me something about perseverance. I have to say getting to 6th Form was no easy task, staying there was a feat. Family stress was so intense,  I dropped out, but for a day. It was Elaine Gomez who made sure I re-registered  at the Evening School and 4 years later, I got my associated degree. I did not walk up for graduation, for I owed the school, but 2 years later, I finally paid to get the degree. How I would get to university was a puzzle, I had no job and no direction. What I had was a drive to meet my goal to get my bachelor degree by age 30. 

It was at a stress management course that I attended at St. Mary's in Belize City, that I found a fellow, 7 years my junior who had gotten his master degree. I said to my self, I have brains, got mad and the following day marched down- more like rode- to Ministry of Education Office got my application for a scholarship and filled it out. Months later, I called the person on the review committee for confirmation they received my application and a few weeks later, received my letter that they would have paid for tuition. At the time, I was an office assistant with a credit union account. Each semester, I borrowed the money, paid it back  and in 2004 managed to get my Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. My Journal was started in 1997, spoke to me seeking to be a historic figure, curing a bad cough and getting my BA by the age of 30. It seems in 2013, I have achieved my entries.

Sacrifice seems to follow me having a father who stopped his physio-therapy in Chicago to ensure that his children was well. Having a mother who worked for the former country representative for UNICEF for years, doing odd cooking jobs to ensure that her younger children made it through school. We all did. I am the 3rd in the line of children, so I maintained my own independent streak. I have also been in the group, but never totally of the group, so social isolation has been the exception rather than the rule. 

I am now, 39-year-old, an advocate, health educator, activist with two decades of experience in the human development sector. For the past seven years, I have worked primarily within the field of HIV and human rights as Executive President of the United Belize Advocacy Movement, a registered NGO in Belize.
Through legislative analysis, litigation, and public education, I have worked tirelessly to advocate for a participatory and rights based approach to health services for HIV affected and marginalized populations and for the eradication of discriminatory laws that impact these communities in the Caribbean.  As the the principal litigant in the Caleb Orozco v. The Attorney General of Belize litigation. Litigation remains one layer of work that the Organization does.

The University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project PR consultant  outline my work history in the following way,  she explains:

"Orozco is active at the hemispheric level in international and regional efforts to raise the standard of protection and human rights enforcement for L.G.B.T populations. He has worked tirelessly through mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review, Caribbean Treatment Action Group, PANCAP, CFLAGS, the OAS General Assembly, and the Convention on Civil and Political Rights to engage in dialogue advancing the cause of privacy, equality and access to health and is the author of several articles and shadow reports pertaining to the health rights of LGBT persons and the threats on their safety and personhood. 

Says Orozco, “My work is driven by the belief that an individual mistreatment is perpetuated by silence.   I am silent no more.”

 Neither threats, not insults will stop me from ensuring that justice exists for all, as the work I do, recognizes a gaping hole in rights enforcement for marginalised groups, women, and children. I don't believe rights are to be negotiated, but that dialogue has value as we cannot advance development as a country with ideological distraction. In the end, someone has to pioneer rights enforcement, L.G.B.T Citizens is just the last bastion to experience resistance in regards to advancing rights protection.

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