Commonwealth Point of Light 51. Elsia Pop
Elsia Pop, representing Belize, aged 18, is leading the preservation of Mayan cultural heritage in her community, which makes up 11.3% of the population of Belize, through traditional handicraft projects.
Elsia interviews elders in her community to preserve their expertise of ancient techniques and customs, and trains young people in her village about their art, enabling them to produce clothes and jewellery they can sell to support themselves through school. Elsia has led a weekly handicraft class for 30 young people in her remote community since 2015, and handicrafts from her project have been displayed at the ‘National Institute of Culture and History’ and at community street art fairs that have attracted over 1,000 people. Last year Elsia was one of only 20 recipients from across the world of ‘The Diana Award’, receiving her award from Prince William and Prince Harry for her work ensuring young Belizeans can preserve their Mayan cultural heritage.
“I am very honoured and it’s a privilege to be one of the Commonwealth Points of Light award holders. It inspires me more to continue to pay my dues to my community and continue to empower as many youths as possible. My advice for all youths like myself is to be humble and follow your dreams. Anything is possible if you work towards it. Lastly we need not to be trending and following the latest in the society. We can quietly divert doing our own thing and show up in the spotlight for positive reasons.”
Peter Hughes OBE, UK High Commissioner in Belize, said:
“Elsia’s enthusiasm, determination and consideration for others are a beacon of inspiration to the Mayan community, and to all young Belizeans. She is an outstanding volunteer who has delivered significant impact on the lives of others through the creation of innovative approaches to social challenges. To earn one award would be a sign of fantastic achievement, but being recognised as a Commonwealth Point of Light is Elsia’s third major international award. Her dedication and selflessness are remarkable and all Belizeans have good reason to be proud of her.”