After only four years in operation, the local charity African Heritage Foundation (AHF) is at a crossroad.
With an increasing number of individuals coming for assistance and with several unfinished projects, president of the AHF Paul ‘Simba’ Rock told Barbados TODAY the foundation has been finding it difficult to meet the demands of the day.
Designed to promote positive developmental change, the ‘Liberty House’, Two Mile Hill, St Michael organization caters to a range of individuals and families from a wide cross-section of the society, especially those from the Rastafarian community.
“For us as a charity, we are trying to strengthen our financial capacity that we can help the parents more,” said Rock.
“It has been fairly challenging. We are a dues-based organization. We currently have 15 active members,” he said, while pointing out that it has been difficult over the years trying to get assistance from government and the private sector.
A major part of the charity’s work is focused on educational development, with members providing homeschooling service for a number of families.
Rock said he was especially proud of the organization’s two-year-old homeschooling programme, adding that those coming for assistance included parents who were not satisfied with the public education system, parents who had children with special needs, and those with religious and social beliefs.
“It is your fundamental and constitutional right to educate your child,” he said, adding that last year alone there were seven parents who expressed an interest in the programme.
He believed more people would opt for homeschooling but they were either constrained by a lack of finances, or by work hours.
In addition to the need for financial assistance, books and other learning materials, Rock said the home of the AHF was also in need of repair and the organization was struggling to pay its bills.
He said the organization was also in need of assistance as it seeks to restart its farming programme and youth and science club.
Highlighting the plight of the organization, Rock said trying to build its capacity over the years was not due to lack of trying, but rather a lack of general interest from the residents “in anything that has Afro or African attached to it”.
However, Rock said he was not about to roll over and play dead. He said with children progressing well in the education programme, the AHF was doing what it could to ensure it was able to continue to provide assistance although “not as financially strong as we would like to be”.
“So what we are trying to do is develop small businesses and you know how business development goes, it takes a little time to get your business established,” he said.
“But we are thinking that it is going to change this year. We have some projects to help and we are always asking the public for any assistance they can give. It doesn’t have to be financial all the time, it could be books and other items, but we really need to build that capacity,” he said.
He wants residents to take the issue of culture and heritage more seriously.
With Black History Month starting in a matter of weeks, Rock said the AHF would be embarking on a major project to help educate children about their history.
“We have a calendar that one of our members had designed. It is a two-fold project. We are hoping to get the calendars in at least three schools so that children could read the information and teachers could have informal discussions about the icons and events that are highlighted. Half of the calendars will be going to schools and the other half will be sold,” he said.
The 49-year-old told Barbados TODAY the charity would also be selling “Afro-centric greeting cards” as part of its fundraising efforts.
Besides the breakfast and lunch activities by two of its members, the AHF has also started an “authentic reggae” Red Light Saturday night lime at its My Lord’s Hill location in order to help raise funds to support its activities.
“So that kind of help us to pay our bills and build our capacity,” he said. (MM)