Helping those who need it most
We pass them daily on roadsides begging, rummaging through garbage bins or sleeping on cold concrete.
Some are mentally unstable, but quite a few are homeless as a result of their families abandoning them. Many of them long for support from others to get a second shot a life, and this is what philanthropist and chief executive officer, RSVP Caribbean Volunteers, Dr Bridgette Barrett, is offering them.
Based in Mandeville and operating for the past two years, RSVP has more than 40 homeless persons on their database with an aim to get them off the streets, possibly reunited with family, sent back to school and/or have them become small business owners.
"At RSVP, there are volunteers from Europe and North America who come here to Jamaica to volunteer on different projects at the hospitals, health centres, in the communities, children's homes, etc. Under RSVP, we have a foundation which is the philanthropic arm that focuses primarily on issues relating to children and the homeless," Barrett explained.
She added that among the reasons behind homelessness, family abandonment is common.
"It ranges from them not working and not contributing to the household. We have a case of sexual orientation. Those are some of the issues why they are ostracised from family. When we meet these individuals an assessment is done, but the families of these persons are not contacted immediately. It's a little while down the line that we do that. We prefer to focus on the need, and if the families chip in at some point, then we work with them."
Barrett further informed that it is important to provide for these persons a family-like structure outside of their families. She said that getting this support is the only way they can turn a new leaf.
GET THEM OFF THE STREET
"Our medium- to long-term goal is to get them off the street. We have so far gotten one young man off the street and he is pursuing his studies at Heart currently. There is another young man that we want to get off the street and give him a push because he walks around and sells. We want to get him a branded cart; we want him to name his cart and we want to give him some supplies and market him so the people of Mandeville can support him and he can start a savings account."
Just recently, Barrett, along with members of her team, offered the homeless a spa day, with plans to continue as often as is necessary.
"We did manicure, pedicure, grooming; and we also provided a personal care package for each homeless person. We have done a sensitisation session on homelessness - what caused persons to be homeless and what can people do to help.
"We are asking corporate Jamaica to take on a case from the five cases that we will be highlighting on social media. We are going to map out everything. We just want you to provide us with donations to assist the drive on a monthly basis," she said.
To contact the team, call 296- 1938