by Kimberley Cummins
At only 24 years old, Kemar Saffrey has already been able to achieve so many of his goals.
Among them, he established his very own organisation, The Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society, and very recently his efforts and dedication to this enterprise were recognised when he was awarded with the Commonwealth Youth Award of Excellence in Youth Development on March 12 in the United Kingdom.†Young people from more than 36 Commonwealth countries were nominated for this award and he was one of the 16 finalists from the Caribbean and Canada, before the group was reduced to four finalists.
Having touched so many lives and encouraged, assisted and facilitated the reintegration of many homeless people back into the Barbadian society, one can only now ask what is the next move for this young man?
Speaking with Barbados TODAY he answered that more encouragement, assistance and facilitation of the reintegration process is in his near future. While the former St. George Secondary student said he was very pleased with the reward, his immediate plan is for the BHVS to branch out into the region.
He said that this goal has been, of late, looking promising. As a result of winning the award he was able to make alliances and persons were showing interest in what he was doing.
Stating that the BHVS model was not hard to copy, he revealed that he would soon meet with guys from Guyana who were attracted to the model, and in the near future others from Belize, Trinidad and Jamaica as well. Having said that, he wanted to be very vigilant searching for the “right” people in these countries to take over the programme since he had no plans for himself to run the organisations there.
“A lot of persons are jumping on the bandwagon, our Facebook page has gotten a lot of likes, even [Government] Ministers are calling, willing to push the organisation further. I think we want to keep it that way but we don’t just want to see people doing it because of the recognition of me but obviously because it is a worthwhile cause to be involved in. We are thankful for the push and we are trying to capitalise on it,” he said.
“It feels good to be recognised, especially at a young age, to have gone that far, to be meeting distinguished persons from around the world. We do feel good about the recognition, so we do feel a sense of pride and joy.
“Being there we made alliances with a lot of persons, a lot of influential persons who are willing to help the organisation to the next level. We are making a lot of tight alliances and working closely with the Commonwealth. It means a lot to have that†support and recognition for myself and the organisation.”
The entrepreneur added: “We were always an international organisation in the sense that we do operate under international standards… It does feel good to be showcased throughout our Commonwealth countries now because mostly we spent our time travelling within the States but obviously to be recognised within†our own it does feel†great because now we can stretch our hands outwardly and help a lot more persons.”
Another objective of the young man was to establish a live-in facility for homeless people here on the island to further aid in their development, however that has been slow in coming.
Saffrey, therefore, took the time to plea to Government and Barbados to support his cause. “We are now still pleading to Government for two acres of land to†build a facility that would combat homelessness. We have that proposal within the Ministry†and we†were told that it would be signed off so we can get that land and have that project started,” he said. “As much as we help and as much as we† would like to see [vagrancy] eradicated, the organisation really needs the funding because we are actually spending a lot more than anticipated with these guys. We are too looking to start the female arm within this year so we really need to have the Government look into giving this land and put more funding into the programme so that we can definitely transform the lives of these persons.
“We have successfully been doing it, we have helped so many persons in our short space of time†and we do believe with the model that we have we can continue to help more persons but we need that support. The support from the public in giving and from the private sector in terms of giving more to support us.”
Some of the successful programmes offered by the society include: On the Road Ministry, Direct Care Ministry At The Crossroads and†the Health For The Homeless Fair, which will be held this year on August 17. firstname.lastname@example.org