Charities have long been in existence in Saint Lucia. However, an innovative type of philanthropy from women here has been significantly contributing toward change on the island. Valerie Jenkinson, the chairperson and founder of the organization ‘100 Women Who Care Saint Lucia,’ donated a $10,400 cheque to Raise Your Voice St. Lucia on Wednesday, February 17 at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort.
Catherine Sealy of Raise Your Voice St. Lucia was the recipient of the cheque presented by the 100 Women group. She told the STAR: “Raise Your Voice St. Lucia was founded in 2014 by a group of eight women, myself included. We decided we needed to advocate on behalf of victimized women and children, especially those affected by domestic violence, rape, child abuse and lack of access to swift justice.”
Sealy said her group is also involved with the economic empowerment of women. “We have spoken to employers, representatives of big companies, and they are considering a relationship with us to benefit survivors of abuse.” Raise Your Voice is currently working assiduously on sensitising people to the consequences of all types of violence and abuse on women and children and the need for prompt and efficient justice.
Membership of Raise Your Voice is open to all, regardless of gender. For several weeks now the group has been travelling around the island, hosting town hall meetings and raising public awareness. So far, the organization has hosted meetings in Micoud, Laborie, Dennery, Vieux Fort, Choiseul, Soufriere, Anse La Raye and Canaries.
Sealy is concerned that several pieces of legislation create inequality. She cited children born out of wedlock, unmarried women and people in common-law relationships. The money donated by the 100 Women Who Care will go toward the production of airing 30 second PSAs to raise public awareness of rape, child abuse and domestic violence within our society and offer information on support services.
Valerie Jenkinson, Chair of 100 Women Who Care Saint Lucia, describes the organization as “a group of dedicated women who care deeply about Saint Lucia.” The group meets every quarter for a one hour meeting where each member donates EC$100 which is donated to a charity that the group selects through ballot. Members nominate a charity of their choice and the list is narrowed down to three. Representatives of these charities are invited to make a five minute presentation as to why they should receive the donation. Members then vote and “all” of the money collected for the quarter goes to the charity with most votes.. In the past year the organization, which now stands at just over 100 women, has donated over EC$28,000 to local charities.
Patroness of “100 Women Who Care” Senator Berthia Parle says when she was approached by the organization she was immediately struck by the simplicity yet efficacy of the idea. “I know of so many busy women like myself who want to give back to the community and those in need but who have so little time and not enough knowledge of the local charities. The success in our first year has been amazing and it is a testament to how this venture has struck a chord with women in our community,” Senator Parle said.
For information on how to join, visit the website: www. 100womenwhocarestlucia.com.