International Day of Charity began as a Hungarian civil society initiative to honour Mother Teresa’s death. However, it took off worldwide in 2012 when the UN declared September 5th an international holiday. This day provides a platform for charitable opportunities and for people to get involved. September 5th, is a reminder that simple acts of charity can lessen the effects of humanitarian crises and create more inclusive and resilient societies.
Life in Trinidad & Tobago reached out to the FEEL organization’s CEO, Elena Villafanna-Sylvester, to share her thoughts as the foundation continues their charitable work to help alleviate the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s what she had to say.
Working with Communities to Eradicate Poverty – One Family at a time
In 1992, the Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life – FEEL – began its mission to serve as an umbrella civil society organization, coordinating outreach and providing support to those most in need.
The model upon which FEEL is built is focused on the strength of collective effort. FEEL acts as an umbrella non-profit organization that solicits donations in bulk and uses these donations to support the everyday work of local charities.
In the last 29 years and continuing, we have been distributing foodstuff, clothing, shoes, hygiene, medical, household, school, and disaster relief to other Non-Profit Organizations working to assist individuals and families in communities across Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Caribbean when natural hazards strike. Non-profits registered with FEEL include community and faith based organizations, children’s homes, institutions caring for the differently abled, homes for the elderly, other special purpose non-profits, and schools.
These FEEL Partners number more than 200 organizations and benefit from regular donations in support of their work towards the Sustainable Development Goals identified by the United Nations.
“Indeed, one of the most important lessons coming out of the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the recognition that we are all connected. Each one of us influences and impacts the lives of the people around us. We at FEEL live the belief that collective effort can change the world.”
For the vast majority of wage earners, the consequences of the pandemic have wreaked havoc, some barely hanging on to the edge of a financial cliff, while our working poor have been thrown into poverty and indigence.
These are the challenges on which FEEL and its partners remain focused. To address the food insecurity being faced by so many households, FEEL has provided donations of foodstuff for over 88,000 food hampers since the start of 2021.
Additionally, FEEL is supporting the national public health drive to keep the population safe from COVID 19, providing over $9 Million in hospital supplies. These include hospital beds, PPE, sanitary supplies, such as disinfecting liquids and sprays, and general medical supplies such as bandages, needles, gloves and adult diapers.
Further, the FEEL School Programme and FEEL Clubs are providing basic school supplies – furniture, stationery, cleaning and sanitizing supplies to 50 schools as well as foodstuff for preparation of food hampers for needy families served by the school in their community.
This level of support is only possible because of a large number of individuals and sectors. From the start of 2021 to date the value of donations provided by FEEL to the local community is approximately $20.1 Million. We are immensely grateful for the generous financial contributions of individuals and organisations locally and internationally. Corporations often make goods available free, or at much discounted rates, thereby allowing FEEL to maximize donation dollars. In addition, hundreds of FEEL volunteers on the ground and partners in the field make it all happen for the benefit of the most vulnerable in our communities, one family at a time.
So, as we participate in the celebration of the International Day of Charity, the FEEL team relates only too well to its 2021 theme: Global Solidarity to Eradicate Poverty”. That has been at the heart of the work that FEEL has done for almost three decades.
Visit our website at feeltt.org, and learn more about our work. We invite you to join the FEEL team of Partners and Volunteers – everyone is welcome.