US Embassy Grants $1 Million to Belize NGOs for Vital Services

US Embassy Grants $1 Million to Belize NGOs for Vital Services

The US Embassy distributed one million dollars in grants today during a special ceremony at the Ambassador’s Residence in Belmopan.  The one million US dollars went to five non-governmental organizations that cater to the fostering of improved health services, enhance access to government services, and the protection of human rights.  The funding, for these special projects that will be undertaken, was taken from the Central America Regional Security Initiative, Economic Support Fund (CARSI-ESF) grants money.  US Ambassador to Belize, Michelle Kwan, told the media that to date CARSI has provided some ten million dollars for similar projects over the past few years.

Michelle Kwan, U.S. Ambassador to Belize: “The Central America Regional Security Initiative Economic Support Fund is just so important. There has been over $10 million dollars in total, US dollars, given to these organizations and you heard the testimony of these five organizations doing incredible work in countering trafficking in persons, gender based violence, delivery services like the Belize Heroes really equipping the fire fighters with the training and services and to support civil society in Belize. So I’m deeply moved and just inspired and you’re giving them the platform to raise awareness of what they’re doing. The absolute hope right ? Supporting nonprofits and civil society hand in hand with the Belize government fighting for transparency and just incredible work across the board. It’s very competitive right ? But I also think the grant writing process is very difficult and these organizations really are leaders in their areas and they do so much and they continue to do a lot of work and you saw a repeat grant awardees today from RET to the Belize Heroes and others and Love Foundation right and it is only a testament of the work they are doing and they’re continuing to accomplish.”

Among the five recipients of grant funding was the Love Foundation, headed by its Managing Director, Deborah Erskine.  The project being funded for the foundation is dubbed, “Promoting Respect and Equity.  It is an undertaking that Erskine says will aim at engaging men and boys in the advocacy, education, and coordination of activities related to the prevention of violence against women and girls.

Deborah Erskine, Executive Director, Love Foundation: “This project will engage a cadre of civil service and social partners such as the Women’s Commission, the Department of Youth Services and the National Commission for Families and Children to train a total of 150 men, 25 from each district thereabout ages 12 to 35 who will be trained as trainers and serve as gender advocates with the primary focus of engaging men and boys to advocate for gender equality, promote health, reduce violence and to question and address the structural barriers to achieving gender equality in Belize. Once training is completed this group will conduct outreach in their immediate communities to expand and sustain the project. The project will work to increase prevention measures to reduce incidents of gender based violence through community and organizational strengthening capacity and leadership building by providing access to mental health services, crisis counseling and other types of behavioral change programs.”

According to Erskine, the Love Foundation will work with schools and other organizations to identify and assess youth who display attitudes of violence, anger and aggression towards women and girls with a plan to engage them in a restorative justice program.  The other four NGOs to have been given grants today were the Building People Movement Project: Belize Heroes; PETAL – Promoting Empowerment through Awareness for Lesbian and Bisexual Women, and RET International.

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