By Sam Rah
If you have ever stayed with the Radisson Fort George Hotel, chances are you have seen this sign for the Liberty Foundation.
Upon checking in, our front desk representative may have said something to the effect of ” There is a $1.00US Dollar a night donation that is applied to your bill. That dollar is donated to the Liberty Children’s home and the hotel matches the donation given by our guests. At the end of your stay, you can decide to have the charge removed”. Please know that this is completely voluntary and you can decide to not participate, just let the front desk rep know, and they will remove the charge, but we ask that you please participate as 100% of the money donated is given to the foundation.
Recently, members of our Radisson Fort George Team & I did a site visit to the Liberty Foundation. The Liberty Foundation, in particular their Children’s Home, is one of the organizations that this Belize City hotel is very proud to be associated with.
Liberty Foundation offers care and education for abused and abandoned children here in Belize and is located in Ladyville, not too far from the International Airport. A few years ago, the Radisson, looking for ways to increase it’s community involvement, adopted Liberty, which is currently home, to 25 children ranging in age and needs. Director Agatha was more than happy to sit with us and give us an update on the activities of the management and children as well as provide a guided tour of the facilities, detailing the projects that they were engaged in.
“In 2003 Marcelle Delahaye, Founder of Liberty Foundation, spent significant time in Belize and visited children’s homes across the country. She saw a clear need for an alternative residential facility for children in the Belize City area who had been abandoned, or removed from their home due to abuse.
By 2004 Liberty Foundation was a registered charity in the UK and a certified NGO in Belize, and Marcelle had enlisted her sister, Gemma Delahaye. They have been running the charity together in the UK ever since.”
Our tour included a stop at their pre-school, their impressive greenhouse, chicken coop, pig pen, boys and girls dorm, cafeteria and their general play area.
We were also lucky enough to come in contact with some of the children as many of them were on property since it was during Summer break that we made our trip. They were all very pleasant and humble, but very high spirited as children should be.
Ms. Agatha, told us that as part of their care, the children are also receiving professional counseling, perhaps this is part of the reason why they all seem to show such resilience, or maybe, it’s just the resilience of the young. We learned that some of the kids are involved in off property activities to help build strong character; some are part of the Youth Cadet Core while others are members of the Belize Sailing Association.
During the tour, we passed through a large area where children of all ages can play and socialize. The area was equipped with swings, a basketball court, a slide, volleyball set up and other playground equipment.
Then, in an enclosure by it’s self, we saw this rare image; a doe and her stuffed toy. This image while strange, was somewhat representative of Liberty, because like the kids here, this young animal was in fact an orphan that found a home here with the liberty family. We are not sure how long she will be able to stay here, but we know for now, she has a home filled with lots of petting, fruits and her very own Barney toy.
To date, between the monies given by our guests and our matching those kind donations, we have contributed over $300, 000.00 Belize dollars to the foundation. Although this may seem like a large number, the truth is, there is still much work to be done and we look forward to our continued partnership with this wonderful organization as we work to find ways for us to be an even bigger part of the good work that is done at Liberty. This Belize city hotel knows that with our “Yes I can” attitude, we can inspire others to join us. For more information on Liberty and how you can donate, volunteer or help in any way, please visit their website at http://www.libertyfoundation.org.uk/
Facts about Liberty
- The name ‘Liberty’ evolved from the charity’s philosophy of giving children the freedom to be themselves, as well as freeing them from the adversities they’ve had to face in their young lives.
- Liberty Children’s Home consists of five monolithic domes, ecological structures that were specifically chosen due to being entirely hurricane proof.
- Liberty Children’s Home is influenced by the Pikler method of childcare, a well researched approach developed to prevent the damaging effects of institutionalisation on children.
- Liberty Learning Centre draws from the Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches that aim for the fullest possible development of the whole child.