Published in:

Our First Thanksgiving Without Laddie

laddie posing in front of christmas tree
Last Updated: December 31, 2021

When we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, there’s no ignoring that empty place at the table.

It was a place where an amazing amount of food disappeared into such a tiny frame, and so much laughter, good natured teasing, and humour emanated from the throne of “King Laddie.”

For the sake of Laddie’s little brother, and for all of us, we’ll put on a brave face, but still…

It’s just not the same.

However, in the midst of Laddie’s absence, we are still able to give thanks. To still find reasons for gratitude and appreciation.

And here’s why.

Laddie made us all aware that we are part of a community. A diverse, at times discordant, yet ultimately caring community. A collection of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends who truly care for each other. A group of people who keenly feel that an injustice against one of us, is an injustice against us all.

In short, a real Community.

When we saw that outpouring of grief, all those candlelight vigils, the petitions, peaceful protests and so many people ready to stand up and be counted, without fear of recrimination or payback by the entrenched colleagues of a murderer, we knew that Laddie’s short life had not been spent in vain.

The burden of our collective sorrow was somehow lightened by the sharing of grief and the rise of a collective determination; that there would be

Justice for Laddie

We realised that Laddie’s short life wasn’t an ending, but the spark of a new beginning, that with all of us working together, the corruption, cronyism and immorality of the entrenched system of “business as usual” in Belize could finally be brought to an end.

That the “old” Belize was making way for a new nation, one where right replaced might, where old money and connections were being replaced by fresh faces demanding transparency and accountability.

We’re hearing this call for change from students, members of churches, sports teams and others, from all over Belize. And we’re all invigorated by this show of people power.

So yes – even with this sad empty place at our Thanksgiving table this year, we’re still able to find reasons to give thanks.

Thanks to Laddie, and the many people whose lives he touched, that place at the table, and our hearts – no longer seem so empty. Instead, we are now  filled with the sense of community, of belonging to something bigger than our individual selves, with the sense that, together, we can achieve something extraordinary.

What a legacy for a fourteen-year-old boy who, in life, represented everything wonderful about Belize.

And who, in death, pulled us all together to point to a way forward – towards a Belize where our youth feel secure, knowing that they can realise their true potential in a country where they are safe and valued.

Thanks to Laddie, and to all of you, Thanksgiving, 2021, is truly a time for Grace, to give thanks and to count our blessings.

In the following weeks, we’ll be asking you to join us in petitioning Belize’s judiciary to finally bring former police corporal Kareem Martinez to trial, for only then can justice for Laddie be achieved, and more positive work in his name begin. Please stay tuned…