Two major investments of the Digicel Foundation for its 2020 fiscal year have been for the development of communities in need and empowering special-needs children, according to its CEO Penny Gomez.
Speaking during the foundation’s annual general meeting, held virtually on Friday, Gomez said the foundation invested US$4.42 million in 477 projects across TT in 2019.
These initiatives, she said, were focused on infrastructural upgrades to centres and facilities and training programmes for volunteers. She was optimistic they would go a long way towards building inclusive and self-reliant communities.
Gomez highlighted some of the programmes to raise awareness and rally support for special-needs children.
“Centres of Excellence is a flagship programme where we go around to facilities who cater to those with disabilities and assess which parts of the infrastructure are in need of urgent repair.
“We are very keen on therapy-based awareness, education and inclusion, so it’s very important that the centres and physical spaces are up to mark with these programmes. Every year we identify certain facilities in need of refurbishment and last year we upgraded the woodwork at the Lady Hochoy School for special needs children in Cocorite to the tune of US$5,704.”
In community development, Gomez said the foundation has been involved in several programmes to improve computer literacy in schools and private centres.
One was the Girls’ Power Tech programme, which engaged girls in information and communications technology and encouraged them to develop an interest in such careers.
“Most of us are aware that young ladies aren’t always as keen to get into the field of IT. But we want to give these young ladies a leg-up in the world and we do that through Girls Power Tech.
“I think they left feeling empowered, knowing that they can consider another option outside of the traditional options.”
Gomez said this programme received US$2,915.
The foundation receives most of its money from Digicel TT Ltd and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Speaking during the panel discussion, martial artist and co-ordinator of the Ryu Dan Dojo Marva Logan-John said she was happy with the assistance of the Digicel Foundation for her programme and that despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, she was able to reach a wider community through online tutoring sessions.
“In this time of covid19, there really was a silver lining where we went online and had a wider reach and allowed the timid people to receive one-on-one attention online.
“We started online English as a Second Language and Spanish as a Second Language classes where we went to Enterprise and Mayaro. We ended up with 195 people in that class (originally intended for 45 people), and covid19 has allowed us to move our community in a dynamic space.”
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