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Apr 22, 2020

The Belize Indian Community Providing 2000 Food Packages to be Distributed Across the City

The latest organization to reach out to persons affected by the COVID-19 is the Belize Indian Community. Today, they delivered vouchers to be issued to persons who are eligible to collect baskets of basic staples. As you know, there is a thriving Indian community in the downtown area, so a number of persons who reside in that area will be befitting. Duane Moody was present for today’s event.


Duane Moody, Reporting

In Belize, as is the case elsewhere, the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down economic activity – thousands have lost their jobs and income and have become dependent on relief and pantry programmes to survive the crisis. The Indian community in Belize, majority businessmen who live and operate within the Old Capital, has come together to procure and provide basic essentials for over two thousand food packages to be spread across the city.


Dinesh Bhojwani

Dinesh Bhojwani, Representative, Belize Indian Community

“We all got together about two weeks ago to try to figure out what we could do for a lot of the families in the city that are struggling because they lost their jobs, they are struggling to meet because maybe parent or one person is has lost their job. So we said let’s wait and see what happens with all the different programmes and where people are going to fall through the cracks.   We decide to rather than going out and get to those people because we might not understand the logistics is to create the vouchers and go into the various constituencies and look for the institutions that have the wherewithal to do that. And we will then hand it to them and not to overwhelm the system and not to have these long lines, we are going to spread it over a period of seven weeks.”


Today, a first tranche of vouchers to be distributed were handed over to the Albert constituency area rep Tracy Panton as well as P.U.P. standard bearer for the area Paul Thompson. Panton says that a number of persons, particularly shut-ins and the elderly, who have not benefited from any of the current relief and pantry programmes, will now receive assistance.


Tracy Panton

Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division

“We just gave out this week a round of provisions to what we call the most vulnerable—our shut-ins, our elderly—who can’t make it to pick up a pantry bag or have access to the food assistance programme. So in another two weeks, we will be sharing these vouchers primary to the most vulnerable, those who we have assessed have not been served by the government initiatives that are in place and who may require the assistance.”


We took a visit to the Water Walkers Community Centre on Albert Street in downtown Belize City which has been identified as the official distribution centre for the packages.  The Belize Indian Community partnered with Julie Miguel of Water Walkers, which will utilise its resources to package and distribute the packages for the next six to seven weeks.


Dinesh Bhojwani

“As part of the process we are now going to work with Water Walkers Community Centre on Albert Street. She has in the past used single mothers from the community to help build programmes. So they are going to help us to package and distribute these to the individuals. The entire project is currently at eighty thousand dollars. Each package is about forty dollars; we have it in front of us right now. And it has the staples: your rice, beans, sugar, flour; there is even toilet paper because we know that’s an issue apparently—I still figured out the toilet paper thing yet, but I think there is an issue with it—cereal and some of the other staples, oil and all of that. We wished we could give more in the package, but one of the things we were trying to do is to give to as many people as possible.”


Also receiving one hundred vouchers was Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner. He says that many residents have made an appeal to City Hall for assistance and now they will be able to.


Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“This is just another entity doing their part as well and I am certain the residents of this city will appreciate it. There are those elderly people who may not have the capacity to really go out in a line and stand up for some time. And o we will, from our city, we have the resources, we have the trucks, the staff, who will be able to access the package for those individuals and then really take it to those elderly people and the neediest of the neediest. That is where we want to touch. We don’t put aside anyone that haven’t been able to access a package, but the elderly and those people that are on the margins, we want to ensure that they get their end as well.”


Participating along with Dinesh Bhojwani in the handing over today were past president of the Belize Indian Community, Preeti Wadhwani and Honorary Consul General of India, Arun Hotchandani. Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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