DONATIONS to the NGO Rainbow Rescue, which has been assisting runaway, homeless and at-risk boys for more than two decades, have dropped by about 60 per cent owing to the covid19 pandemic.
This was reported by founder and CEO Judy Wilson during an interview with Newsday last week at the organisation’s office at Saddle Road, Maraval.
"Because of the coronavirus, the funding has slowed down a lot. Businesses closed down. So those who we relied on, a lot of them are trying to get up again. Private donations (are down as well)."
Wilson said Rainbow Rescue also had to cancel the annual luncheon fundraiser in November because of uncertainty over covid19.
"Now with what we hearing (from health officials) it is going to be even worse. Even if things had gotten better where we could have held something even on a smaller scale, we don't know now. So we definitely have to cancel it totally now with the (recent) local cases."
She said with the partial reopening of school (for the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam, Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations) the children were back out and transportation for them was $4,000 per month.
Wilson said Rainbow Rescue used to get a lot of in-kind donations of groceries and that allowed the organisation to put money that would have been spent on groceries to another use. She added that people are familiar with Rainbow Rescue and trust that it is doing a good job.
"There are generous people out there, so we hope that if things pick up again (with the economy) that people would come back and start donating."
Asked about government subventions, Wilson said the Office of the Prime Minster pays Rainbow Rescue per child. She added, however, that the ongoing expenses, and to repair and replace items, was very costly.
"Because we talking about 14 boys (aged ten to 18) and something is always breaking."
Wilson said the boys who have gone through Rainbow Rescue have done well for themselves.
"I have been doing this for 21 years, almost 22 years. And the children who were actually living on the streets come back to me now. They’re married, they have their own children, they’re in the Coast Guard. One is a mechanic and drives people. We have those in university, we have one studying medicine. They’re doing very, very well. I mean these children are ambitious."
She said two of the boys are writing Caribbean Examinations Council exams.
"So all the children are managing."
She recalled, Dianne's Tea Shop in Maraval was attacked on social media (over an "all lives matter" post). She reported, however, the business has provided July-August vacation jobs for the boys, and one of them now works permanently at the Hyatt. She also said there are children who work at Massy Stores as well. Other support include eye tests from Optometrists Today and doctors who provide a lot of voluntary work.
"We are fortunate that we get help, but we still need financial assistance to run the place. We can't tell TSTT we are doing a good job and ask for a 'bligh'."
Rainbow Rescue was founded in 1999 and services include street outreach, shelter and care, counselling, referrals, health services, family counselling referral, home school and runaway prevention. Donations to Rainbow Rescue can be made at Republic Bank at account number 560293132501. For more information please call 622-1200.