Back in June of this year, The Liberty Foundation in Ladyville faced certain closure rendering some forty-seven children, who have suffered other major setbacks in life, homeless. Fact is the worldwide recession slowed financial support from local and international donors, thus strapping/crippling the organization. As a result, employees were working four weeks without pay and resources were dwindling. Since then, the foundation has received assistance from the Radisson, Belize Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (BELAIFA), and the Ministry of Human Development among others. But despite the short term relief, tonight the foundation finds itself back at stage one financially, and the staff is once again not being paid. News Five’s Duane Moody visited the foundation today and received a situational update and project plans for greater sustainability.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The financial crisis at the Liberty Children’s Home has not improved and on Wednesday, when Director, Delfena Mitchell, was off the compound, the staff had a meeting to discuss whether they would continue working without pay. Luckily, Mitchell says the foundation was able to receive money to pay the staff at least two weeks salary.
Delfena Mitchell, Director, Liberty Foundation
“When I came back in to work sometime in the afternoon, I was made aware that some of the staff did have a meeting. I really don’t know what was discussed at the meeting, but I do know that they are unhappy that they have not been paid. Unfortunately, it is true that we owe the staff four weeks of back pay. Whether or not they plan on strike, I don’t know if that is the case. I do know that all the workers have been at work and they continue to be at work. I do have good news that we did have a sum of money deposited in the account, the money that we have been waiting for. So the staff will be able to get their back pay between today and Monday.”
Although the staff showed up for work today, Mitchell says that the institution is operating on a low budget to manage the day to day activities. And since the break of the crisis in June of this year, the foundation has been taking on projects to generate income.
“We have a building that is unoccupied right now and we are using that as a thrift shop so we can sell new and gently used clothing to people in the community. Everything that we have in the thrift shop are things that have been donated to us by family, friends and associates that we go to and beg for things to sell at the thrift shop. Well Duane, I know you just saw some of our pretty fat pigs and they are looking very juicy. But yes, we do grow our own animals here—pigs, chickens, ducks—that is for a source of food and also to generate income by selling to the public. On the compound we also have the vegetable and stuff. Over in this area here, it’s a site where we are going to have a future greenhouse that is being donated by the Ministry of Agriculture where we can grow some more vegetables.”
Mitchell also says that with its newly elected board, the foundation is hopeful. And on Sunday, in San Pedro Town, some members of the board will be having a five kilometers run-walk to help raise funds for the home.
“In San Pedro, there is a five K run-walk happening this Sunday which the proceeds of that will come to liberty, there is also something going on the following weekend by an entrepreneur there in San Pedro by the name of Peter. I have not met Peter yet but I understand he is putting off a big fundraiser for us and I’m grateful for that.”
The run-walk starts from the Central Park on the island at nine a.m. and will end at Captain Morgan’s. Entry fee is thirty Belize dollars. Duane Moody reporting for News Five.
Liberty Foundation houses abused, homeless and abandoned children. Since June, ten of the kids at the home have either been adopted or reunited with their family. So the number of kids currently stands at thirty-seven.