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Jul 1, 2008

Gann’s Rest House gets much needed assistance

Story PictureThe homeless situation in Belize has always been a cause for concern. But with the ongoing facelift to revitalise downtown Belize City, addressing that sensitive challenge has a priority. Today, efforts to reopen Gann’s Rest House to provide shelter for the city’s homeless started with the first of several donations. The task is a major one and both the Salvation Army, which will run the programme, and the Belize City Council agree that homelessness is an issue that simply can no longer be ignored.

Major Errol Robateau, Regional Cmdr., Salvation Army
“We are restarting it actually it was closed for about two or three years. I came back and met it closed and we had a lot of problems including the stripping of the building and we’ve had to refurbish it and right now we’re trying to get it open again.”

Marion Ali
“So, how many people are you catering for?”

Major Errol Robateau
“For twenty, capacity. That will be the maximum we can hole because of the layout of the place.”

Marion Ali
“So, how will these people be selected? Belize City has very much more than twenty homeless people.”

Major Errol Robateau
“Well, it’s good you asked that question because there have been people who have been trying to get rid of their people from their homes and I want to make it clear that we are not taking anybody from any home. We are concentrating on those who are already out there and we are working with the City Council where that is concerned.”

Marion Ali
“The ones that are based mainly at Battlefield Park?”

Major Errol Robateau
“Yes, in the park. Right now we are in the process of collecting items and these items will be used specifically for the people who stay here. We still are in need of quite a number of stuff. Right now we are concentrating on the inventory actually. We have given the City Council a list and they have been helping us. We have also gotten help from the CBC Company, the cable company in King’s Park and together we were able to get many of the stuff. We have to receive everything because there was nothing here.”

Wayne Usher, Councillor, Belize City Council
“We have teamed up with the Salvation Army to get Gann’s Rest House moving as part of our procedures for finding safer accommodations for the homeless in downtown Belize City. It is part of this initiative to find suitable accommodation for them.”

Marion Ali
“It’s rather imperative that you get that off the ground as quickly as you can right because that project is a little bit behind time?”

Wayne Usher
“That is true because the infrastructure downtown is coming on stream. I think it should be finished by the end of this month. We are trying to let the two things roll out at the same time because the homeless situation cannot just remain as it is even if we are uplifting downtown, we have to include them and we must find a humanitarian way, a sustainable way and an acceptable way of having these people in a safer environment.”

Zenaida Moya, Mayor, Belize City
“We have Miss Gladys Waight who has already indicated from New York that she can send down barrels of food items as often as we need it so that’s one. We have Mister Jack Charles from Extra House who already is working with us every two weeks to feed the homeless. Gann’s Rest house will be a part of that and he has committed to it. We also have the Ministry of Human Development. Homeless, the whole situation with this fall under their mandate. The Belize City Council is spearheading this effort, however, because the homeless that we’re dealing with falls within Belize City proper. Unfortunately, within the past few months, at least two or three homeless have been killed; one simply for helping out another individual. One recently was found, another person I think a little before was burnt to death. I think that was in the Neal’s Pen Road area. The point is that he was simply sleeping as we were made aware. These people, they at times can become unnecessary victims of undue violence geared towards them, sometimes simply by idle minds. We need to get them out of the place, get them to become respected individuals once again.”

The programme at Gann’s Rest House is set to begin in September and will cater to the first group of twenty homeless persons.

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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