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Jul 11, 2022

Sr Cecelia’s Home for the Elderly Needs Your Help

It’s been around for decades, providing full residential services to Belize’s neediest elderly citizens whose families have no means of taking them in or those who have no relatives in Belize to care for them. But the elderly home needs your help if it is to keep its services running. And today, the staff of Diamonds International at the Belize Tourism Village, spent one of several giving the main building at the facility a complete paint job. News Five’s reporter, Marion Ali and cameraman, George Tillett were on hand to witness the work and talk with the relevant parties. Here’s their report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Today, the main building at the Sr. Cecelia Home for the Elderly on Wilson Street was buzzing with people who do not live there. The thirty-two visitors are actually employees of Diamonds International, a high-end jewelry outlet at the Fort Street Tourism Village. They were there to give of their time and their labour.


Yolanda Sugnani

Yolanda Sugnani, Financial Controller, Diamonds International

“We came here two weeks ago and we realized that they needed help, so we decided to take on their facility, one step at a time. Today we’re doing the living and dining room; we’re repainting. We’re going to hopefully refurbish. We’re trying to partner with a or some construction companies to get repairs done in the bathrooms as well, so it’s not just going to be painting.”


Although the business is in the cruise tourism sector – an industry that demands countless hours from its stakeholders, Financial Controller of Diamonds International, Yolanda Sugnani says the employees decided that they could pull off the charitable work if they came one day each month at this time of year when the season dips into its lull.


Yolanda Sugnani

“We work during the low season in community service and our staff decided to choose Sr Cecelia’s Home as one of the places we’re going to be assisting from June to September. This particular time, we did the raising of funds ourselves and we are going to continue do fundraising but we would like to ask other organizations who are interested in partnering with us for materials to give us a call and let us know what they would like to assist with. We’d welcome them with open arms.”


When there’s no help forthcoming, as was the case this time, the staff rally together and holds barbeque sales and raffles to raise funds to purchase the materials they need for the job.


And even though there was no music, one of the patrons saw it fit to try a few dance steps while getting the work done.


Yolanda Sugnani

“The funding for this basically comes from me asking other organizations’ support. What Diamonds International staff do is we provide the labour for everything that we’re doing and we ask other organizations to chip in, in terms of materials.”



The help comes in very handily for the folks who run the old people’s home, as it is otherwise referred to. Since cost of living has skyrocketed in the past weeks, they have seen their budget depleted that much quicker, and even on a subvention from the government, its ability to balance income versus expenditures has been compromised by the fact that not all the residents’ live-in services are covered.


Hortense Augustine

Hortense Augustine, Supervisor, Sr Cecelia’s Home for the Elderly

“We have five residents in the private wards who are all paying, and that’s seven hundred dollars per month. We have the others in the regular ward, which is four hundred dollars a month, but not everybody is paying. So we have about six people that aren’t paying regular. And if you look at four hundred dollars a month to feed three times a day, with snacks, to pay staff and to do other activities, there is no way that you can keep up with that. Yes government assists with a subvention, to help pay the staff. We use a lot of pampers. Pampers is very expensive. It’s one of the most expensive things. Organizations could come in and bring food. They could have a day that they would celebrate something, they could come and celebrate it with our residents. And also we have residents here that do special diets, so a lot of fruits, anybody that has fruits, vegetables. You have a farm and you have those things, bring it for us.”


Currently there are thirty-two residents who call the facility home with a staff of sixteen taking care of them round the clock. These elderly people come from that generation of professionals who did their part in the development of Belize.


(Hortense Augustine 2)

We have former cooks that owned restaurants, we have former pharmacists, former technicians, former teachers, former construction worker, former drivers and former nurse.”


Sonia Swazo

Sonia Swazo, Assistant Supervisor, Sr Cecelia Home for the Elderly

“When they come in, we ask that they could move around, help themselves a bit when they come into the home. But once they’re already in here, we take care of them. Sometimes some of them come in walking, then they end up in wheelchairs, so we continue to take care of them.

The supervisors of the home say they are also in need of special beds with rails.



Marion Ali 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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