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The U.S. Embassy in Belize announced the recipients of the 2019 Central America Regional Security Initiative, Economic Support Fund (CARSI ESF) grants during an award ceremony on Wednesday, October 9th. The three grants, totaling $750,000 USD, support good governance and using civil society engagement to strengthen government effectiveness.

The 2019 CARSI ESF grantees include RET Belize, whose projects focuses on responsible engagement for transition to improved response to gender-based violence and trafficking in persons, Youth Enhancement Services projects focuses on protective and enabling environments for marginalized women, girls, and children affected by CSEC, trafficking, and domestic violence. The third awardee is Trust for the Americas, whose projects focus on transformation to an open public administration in Belize.

The United States has invested more than $42 million since 2008 through CARSI ESF to fund programs to support justice initiatives, at-risk youth, good governance, and citizen security in Belize. During the ceremony, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Keith Gilges shared a few words about the objectives of the grants. “Here in Belize, we hope the grants contribute to increase citizen participation and oversight so that all government is responsive to the people. Through the CARSI-ESF program this year, we ask our 2019 grantees to focus on one of at least two objectives; to strengthen the partnership between civil society and the government or to improve government services that respond to gender-based violence (GBV) and trafficking in persons especially for vulnerable and marginalized populations,” he said.

Recipients shared their plans for the grants provided. RET Belize Monitoring and Evaluations Officer Landee Longsworth stated, “RET will be working in nine municipalities in the districts of Belize, Cayo and Stann Creek to increase the awareness and visibility of key stakeholders, protocols and structures for accessing services that respond to Trafficking In Persons (TIP) at the national level, municipal level and community level for improved support to the women and youth victims or at risk for TIP. We will strengthen mechanism structure, processes, and human capacity for increased coordination, monitoring, reporting and response to women and youth victims at risk for TIP and gender-based violence (GBV). To improve access to government services that respond to TIP and GBV, (as well as) at community level through strengthened public-private partnerships and enhanced CSO monitoring for accountability, timely and transparent service delivery.” RET Belize was awarded $296,296.

The Trust for the Americas representative Starret Greene revealed their project plans for their $209,500. “In Phase two we are going to build capacity in government and other factors so that we can strengthen the relationship and the partnership to achieve open government. The last of our objectives in phase two is to empower communities through innovative solutions and to generate livelihoods that promote good governance, and I believe that we can achieve those goals,” said Greene.

Karen Cain, Director of Youth Enhancement Services, shared that they will be using their $240, 500 grant on a project that will see better support and protection of marginalized women, girls, children affected by commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, and domestic violence. “This two-year project has four main goals. Goal one is to strengthen the family support for at-risk youth by collaborating with the National Committee for Families and Children to train trainers utilizing the newly approved parenting manual. Goal two is to enhance knowledge and skills of government and non-governmental employees using a result-based management approach. Goal three, provide capacity building to enhance awareness and sensitize youth advocates to aid in the prevention and identification of possible victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. The last goal is to increase access to alternative shelters, legal representation, and psycho-social support for victims of commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, and domestic violence,” she said.

The U.S. Embassy thanks the 2019 CARSI ESF applicants for their thoughtful and innovative proposals. The United States is proud to partner with these three grantees as they work to make a better future for the people of Belize. The San Pedro Sun congratulates RET Belize, Youth Enhancement Services, and The Trust for the Americas for being selected as the recipients of the 2019 Central America Regional Security Initiative, Economic Support Fund (CARSI ESF) grants.

San Pedro Sun