'We need help to help' - NGO's

No. 59 Friday, February 26, 2010
These are the cries from the different Non-Government Organizations (NGO's) that gathered at the Breezes Trelawny Hotel on February 16 in an effort combine their ideas to find ways to alleviate the stress that their charities are under at present.

   The move was organized by Montego Bay's own, Open Heart Charities founder and director, Robert Clare. Clare explained that the reason why the gathering was done was to share ideas between the different NGO's across Jamaica, develop a database of information and pool their resources because at present they are facing extreme dif­ficulties.
   He mentioned that in re­cent times, trying to help the less fortunate have become harder due to the cash crunch that is affecting Jamaica at present. "The food bill as well providing other services do not come cheap and so the funds have to be found somewhere and at present, the charities are looking at different ways to work around that," Clare mentioned.
   With the meeting of the different groups, the basis of discussions were plans to have one body to represent them in talks with the government as with one voice they would be better able to negotiate and carry out dialogue.
   They are also looking for the government to have one agency that they can deal with as it is cumbersome to deal with the variety of agencies which has a major impact of
time and funds. "The time that we have to spend in dealing with the different agencies could be cut by a major fraction if the Government provided an agency strictly for us," Mr. Clare pointed out.
   Topics such as tax breaks are at the top of the list as they believe that genuine organizations that go out each day to help should be afforded that. However, the current system has so much red tape that they find it very difficult try and do it. He mentioned that one of the ways suggested by the authorities was that they would have to take out advertisements in the me­dia for two consecutive weeks to qualify for tax breaks. This he sees as problematic as they are already strapped for cash and this would certainly put more pressure on them.
   Others items that were up for discussion at the meeting were the ways in which street persons could be cared for, identifying and caring for the mentally ill and looking at ways to best provide meals and shelter in the present economic climate.
   They are also asking the public, especially corporate Jamaica, to give a little of their time and resources to help as they provide a service that is vital to the country, but it cost a lot and the funds are not readily available in most cases. This can be done in the form of food, clothing and cash donations to keep these organizations afloat.
   "We are here to help these people in a bid to rehabilitate them so they can once again become productive persons
within the society," declared Mr. Clare.
   Several groups partici­pated in the activities to in­clude charities from overseas in the form of Home Sweet Home Ministries and well as Government organizations to include the National Solid Waste management Author­ity, The Board of Supervision, Tax Administration Depart­ment among others.
   The local NGO's included Open Heart, Friends of the Homeless, Family Unifica­tion Resettlement Initiative, Portland Rehab Manage­ment, Reach Out Community for the Mentally Ill, Clar­endon Association of Street People.

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