With COVID-19 forcing mass layoffs in Jamaican and reducing philanthropic efforts across the island, now more than ever, the diaspora is being urged to step up and assist Jamaicans at home who are feeling the economic pinch of the pandemic.
One of the local organizations calling for support is Street People Liberation, which has maintained its commitment to helping the island’s vulnerable and homeless, despite their own challenges with COVID-19.
The foundation was started in 2014 by a Montego Bay student, Ashli-Ann Broughton. She explained that the initial startup was possible because of the support received from her family as well as donations made by members of the diaspora.
“When I started, I had the support of my mother and friends. My mother and I would prepare meals and purchase items based on the donations we would receive from persons overseas and locally,” Broughton told CNW Network.
Street People Liberation started with only 10 members but has since grown to over 170 members islandwide. The same willingness to help the less fortunate which led Broughton to start the foundation, is the same thing that has pushed the group to continue supporting the homeless in Jamaica, despite a decrease in funding.
“COVID really made us stronger,” Broughton said. “Instead of cancelling our projects for the year, we decided we do more. Currently, we have completed 4 out of 7 projects and we are running a monthly hygiene and snack initiative for the homeless and shelter residents in downtown Montego Bay and the refuge of Hope homeless shelter in Albion, St. James. We have issued over 500 hand sanitizers and hand made masks and disposable masks already.”
Street People Liberation has fed over 7000 individual in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston since 2014. Within the last year, they have also adopted shelters to treat individuals living there, providing food, clothing, toiletries throughout the year to help with their daily operations.
For their next project, on October 18, the foundation is aiming to feed 500 persons in Montego Bay and Kingston and has urged the diaspora to provide assistance to help residents.
“You don’t have to a lot of persons, you can just start by helping one,” said Shian Outar, the group’s Project Marketing Manager. “A small donation, one mask, sanitizer, anything can make a change in the lives of these persons”.
For members of the diaspora interested in helping, donations can be made to the group’s bank account at Scotia Bank: Street People Liberation Foundation Limited, account number, 845257 at the Fairview Branch in Montego Bay.
Donations can also be made through PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/Broughton938 or in person at the Refuge of Hope homeless shelter in Montego Bay and the Open Arms drop-in center in Kingston.