Feed My Lambs in despair: kids will go hungry
A Bermudian-based charity that works in poverty-stricken Haiti warned “kids will go hungry” if donations dried up.
Philip Rego, founder of the Feed My Lambs Ministry, said demand for help from the charity's clinic in Haiti had doubled, but donations had halved.
Mr Rego added: “What bothers me is that 90 per cent of these funds come from Bermuda, and if that stops, a lot of kids will go hungry.”
He said the situation in Haiti had been going “downhill” since civil unrest struck the Caribbean island last year.
Mr Rego said: “That was a big setback, not just politically, but also in terms of getting volunteers and support to Haiti.
“With this virus, people thought it was for the other parts of the world and they wouldn't be affected. Now they see the reality of it.
“In Haiti there's also malaria and typhoid and all these other diseases rampant, which makes it hard to get a real number, but it is there.
“And those who work in the hotels and the restaurants were affected first.”
Mr Rego said he considered closure of the clinic, but the demand for help was just too high.
He said: “The clinic is still helping people every day.
“Our teachers are out of school but they still need salaries. They still need to put food on the table.
“Food prices are a nightmare. They're double what they had been. It's gone crazy.”
Haiti had recorded 4,688 cases of Covid-19 and 82 deaths as of yesterday, but the real figure could be much higher.
Haiti is ranked 176th in the world for coronavirus test figures, with 9,651 tests administered for a population of more than 11 million.
Bermuda is 12th in the world in the global test league. Mr Rego said that the Haitian Government had moved to limit the spread of Covid-19, but the precautions had been taken too late.
He said: “They didn't believe it. They thought it wouldn't affect Haiti, so Bermuda shut down, America shut down, England shut down, and they were running normally.
“Now there are a lot of people that are affected and the Government is telling them to cover up, but they are three months behind.”
Mr Rego said donations to the charity had dropped before the crisis, but the virus had made fundraising even more difficult.
He explained that he would usually organise around six trips to Haiti every year for donors, which had helped to build support for the charity.
But travel restrictions had halted that revenue stream.
Mr Rego said: “You can't really get people coming.
“If I could get people to come, they would see the need and tell someone else. I usually have six trips a year, but now we don't have anyone coming.
“Donations dropped by more than half in the last year. It has dropped tremendously.”
Mr Rego said the charity relied on the kindness of Bermuda that if everyone on the island donated $2, that would be almost enough to run the charity for a year. But he added that financial hardship in Bermuda caused by the pandemic would make it harder for people to support overseas causes.
He added: “If people in Bermuda are not working, you create a dreadful situation — not a speed bump, but a full-blown stop.
Other Caribbean islands have suffered economic hardship because of the lack of tourists, but have escaped the worst of Covid-19.
The Jamaican Association of Bermuda said that the country had handled the pandemic well and had adopted a similar approach as Bermuda.
Seymour Barclay, president of the association, said: “Jamaica, like Bermuda, is a very resilient country.
“The percentage of citizens affected is low, but has affected the daily operations of the country.
“There have been periods of partial shut down in sections of the country since Covid-19, especially in areas of outbreaks.”
Mr Barclay added that the Jamaican Government had joined forces with charities to help those hardest-hit.
He said: “In short, Jamaica is doing pretty good despite Covid-19 and will bounce right back soon.”
Jamaica has reported 626 cases of the virus and ten deaths with 17,463 tests carried out.
Cayman is the only Caribbean country to have carried out more tests per head than Bermuda.
Cayman has reported 193 cases of the disease and one death.
The UK Overseas Territory has carried out 18,605 tests — which ranked them fourth in the world for test rates.