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Still Earning His Keep At 93!

Still Earning His Keep At 93!
March 01
13:37 2019

While many people in the work force plan their retirement and look forward to that day when they no longer have to get up and fend for a living, there are also many who postpone retirement. Ninety-three year-old William Hope gets up every morning, like he has been doing for the past 30 odd years, and after having breakfast with his wife of more than 70 years, Gwendolyn Hope, he drives his taxi car down Cemetery Road and parks in front of the Rogers’ Stadium from where he operates his taxi service.

It’s not because he needs the money, he says, because he can survive off his pension, and has all his ten children as support, most of who also have passed retirement age. It is because life would be boring, he said, and he still believes in putting his abilities and fairly good health to work.

People who were around in the 60s and 70s may remember Mr. Hope in a Police Inspector’s khaki uniform. He served with the Belize Police Force for 27 years, he says, and retired in 1981. Thereafter, he worked at the Customs Department as a tally clerk, but he shelved that job after two years and decided to start working for himself doing taxi service. The noble job is not as easy as it appears, according to the senior citizen because road traffic requires one to be focused, referring to reckless drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians. But in all his 30 odd years of driving a taxi, he has never been involved in an accident, he boasted proudly. In fact, he has not even gotten a traffic ticket in all these years!

This elderly man, who still has razor sharp memory, has a lot of concerns about his country – a country whose crime level and numbers have worsened and far surpassed those that he used to deal with. In his 27 years as a lawman, Mr. Hope told us he only dealt with one murder. And because back then murders were so rare, he remembered the incident in detail.

He also feels that the conviction rate is low because cases take too long to be prosecuted and by the time they are called to trial, victims might have moved away or forgotten some key piece of information. Intimidation by perpetrators of victims is also a factor in the outcome of cases, he believes. And too many times, the victims of crimes pay the ultimate price when they themselves are murdered.

While he prefers being his own boss, transitioning from that time when he kept law and order to now – when his daily challenge is to avoid becoming a victim of crime itself is one of the things he dislikes the most, as he spoke of ‘the good old days.’

“The only thing we carried back then was a baton,” he recalled, “no gun. People were more law-abiding then. But now I have to be careful who I’m picking up. I have to know what areas I’m going into. I have to be very careful because sometimes you are being set up.” Shutting off for the day at dusk is how the elderly taxi man decreases the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime.

And although he spends the better part of 12 hours each day earning his keep by taxi, Mr. Hope still finds the time to volunteer as a lay minister in the Anglican Church. He has done so for the past ten years. As a part of his responsibilities, he gives lessons to parents and godparents of children before baptism.

Everything that he has done or is doing seems to link together, because Mr. Hope believes that it is because of broken homes and lost values that the crime situation has skyrocketed. So for him, instilling in the new parents and godparents of babies about to be baptized the importance of responsible parenting and guardianship is paramount. Being a godparent, he explained, means taking responsibility for the child if the need ever arises, and teaching by example, which to him means living a Christian life.

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