His tireless efforts to address the needs of the homeless in Barbados earned him an unexpected honour today.
Kemar Saffrey, president of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society (BVHS), was named Barbados’ Commonwealth Point of Light, in recognition of his voluntary service.
“Upon hearing the news of the award I was completely shocked because we weren’t looking for an award,” he said, after being presented with a personalized certificate signed by Her Majesty, The Queen.
British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Janet Douglas made the presentation at the BVHS headquarters on Tudor Street Office this morning.
She said the Commonwealth award, which recognizes outstanding volunteers across the 53-nation grouping, was a fitting honour for Saffrey.
“Kemar has made an outstanding contribution to the welfare of homeless people in Barbados, both by providing services to help get their lives back on track, and by raising awareness in local communities and nationally of their plight.
“Through his actions, Kemar sets an example of how we can make a difference to our communities through volunteering,” she added.
However, though honoured to be recognized at such a high level, Saffrey stressed that he could not take all the credit, which he shared with members of his staff.
“I want to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Her Majesty, The Queen and the selection committee, for choosing me for such a prestigious award. I am humbled and elated that the work which I started nearly a decade ago can be recognized at such a level. Again, ‘thank you,’” he said.
“The award is not just for me, but the BVHS staff, the board, its members and all the volunteers that come together to make this a reality,” he added.
The BVHS, founded in February 2010, seeks to re-integrate vagrants and homeless persons into mainstream society by providing a housing programme that enables them to become productive citizens.”
Just this week, Saffrey announced that the charity had made provision for the 497 people on its register to vote in the upcoming general elections.
He has also been lobbying the island’s political parties to outline clear plans to assist the homeless.
The outspoken advocate said he was blessed by his work and he urged Barbadians to live a life of service.
“I would encourage anyone out there who is seeking to help other persons, whether it be the vulnerable, the homeless, or whatever they feel in their hearts, to try to make a difference by doing.”