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Digicel (Guyana) gives millions to address domestic violence, disabled, HIV/AIDS

Digicel’s Marketing Manager, Jacqueline James (extreme left) and Digicel’s Communications Manager (extreme right) accompany representatives of Lifeline Counselling and the Help and Shelter at the presentation of the cheques.

Digicel (Guyana) Limited on Friday doled out more than GUY$11 million to help improve the lives of disabled school-age youths, cushion the impact of domestic violence and fight HIV and AIDS.

The Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre (PRCC) is about to undergo rehabilitation works through a GUY$7 million project being funded by the phone company.

PRCC Administrator, Cynthia Massay said construction is expected to begin early next year and is expected to last four months.

Digicel’s Marketing Manager, Jacqueline James said the floors, play area and external areas of the Carmichael Street-based building would be repaired.digicel prcc

“Not for the children only but it would also help the lives of those persons who are assisting our children there,” said James told reporters.

Against the background of the telecommunications provider’s recent financing of the rebuilding of the Mahaica Children’s Home and now the PRCC, James acknowledged that her company was focussing heavily on children. ““The children are the future of the country and we want to ensure that they are comfortable…They are in a safe environment growing up,” she said.

assay praised Digicel for always responding positively to the PRCC’s requests for financial assistance. She recalled that recently the phone company financed the refurbishment of the dining room and washroom facilities to the tune of GUY$1 million at a time when the institution had been starved of funds.

The PRCC has 64 children in its nursery, primary and vocational education department as well as 30 others in day care. Another 20 are seen by experts on days when rehabilitation services are provided.

A total of 80 children have been seen by the rehabilitation unit for the year.

Help and Shelter

Digicel also infused GUY$4 million into Help and Shelter to help cushion the impact of escalating domestic violence on women and children.

The Marketing Manager of the phone company said the money would be spent to refurbish a centre where they can stay temporarily in a safe and comfortable environment.

“We are donating towards a project that is underway in terms of ensuring the facilities are comfortable for persons who may need to be sheltered or need to be taken away out of an abusive situation,”  said James.

Help and Shelter plans to offer the women vocational classes aimed at empowering them with skills so that they can earn their own money and become less dependent on their abusers who often seek to lure them back into their homes.

Director of Help and Shelter, Margaret Kertzious said one of the challenges facing victims of domestic violence is that they are still emotionally attached and financially dependent on their abusers. “Remember, they have been with this person for a very long time so there is a lot of psychological and mental and emotional connection to this person and they will always tend to remember the good times,” she said.

Kertzious lamented that Help and Shelter has not received any major donor funding for several years now to execute its public awareness education programme through workshops and other sessions. “We believe that our public education programme is one of our major core activities and if you are not able to do one of your service areas it means then that it will affect the whole smooth running of your service,” she said.

Help and Shelter currently relies on some funds from the European Commission for face-to-face and Hotline Counselling and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that targets workplaces to discuss gender-based violence.

Fellow Director Denise Dias related the skills projects included embroidery, computer and hydroponics- the latter a Digicel-supported revenue generating initiative.

The Crisis Service Centre can accommodate 46 persons including women and children.

Last year over 98 men reported that they were victims of domestic violence including those who have been referred by the court system for counselling.

Lifeline Counselling

Digicel also provided GUY$1 million to Lifeline Counselling to support its peer counselling services in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Lifeline Counselling is a Guyanese non-governmental organisation that has been receiving local and international funding over the years to minimize the impact of the disease.

Latest official statistics show that Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean are recording a gradual decline in the HIV prevalence rate. Successes are largely due to counselling, reduced stigma and discrimination and reduced mother-to-child transmission of the virus. Digicel provides annual financial support to Lifeline.

The donations were made in support of National Disability Week November 24 – December 2, 2013, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and World AIDS Day.