Thursday, May 30, 2024

Hope Haven Domestic Violence Outreach Center officially opens in San Pedro Town


Island residents afflicted by domestic violence can now access a facility with personnel committed to preventing further violence, protecting victims, and empowering survivors. The Hope Haven Domestic Violence Outreach Center officially opened its doors on Wednesday, December 15th, just a couple feet from the Holy Cross Anglican Primary School at the entrance of the San Mateo area. The center will provide police assistance, legal aid, emergency placements, Women’s Department assistance, and accessible mental health services. Anyone needing help can visit the center opening from 9AM to 4PM Monday to Friday. For any emergencies after hours or weekends, please contact the police. The schedule and opening hours for each office offering the different services is to be announced. For updates, visit their Facebook page

The facility is the product of long months of hard work by volunteers as they restored the property for the center. This new center is the sister facility of Hope Haven Children’s Home, both under the non-governmental organization Raise Me Up. Present at the monumental event were founder Brittney O’Daniel, stakeholders, donors, Hope Haven Belize directors, and local and central government representatives.

Master of Ceremonies Natalie Arceo welcomed everyone to a special celebration and invited Rafael Torres of Cornwall Church for the invocation. Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez followed, stating that the opening of the domestic center is a solution to this ongoing problem in the community. “This center will provide services, which can help victims to rebuild their lives,” he said. “Education will always play a key factor in helping to identify a lot of cases that fall under the radar.” Nuñez called on the community to help suppress domestic violence and denounce the problem that destroys homes.

The President of the National Women’s Commission, Thea Garcia-Ramirez, highlighted that homelessness is one of the reasons many victims do not leave an unhealthy relationship. According to her, in Belize, domestic violence starts from misunderstandings, intoxication, and jealousy. Ramirez said a cultural pattern needs to be eradicated, as some communities still believe domestic violence is acceptable. In some instances, the victim is blamed and the perpetrator victimized.

Special Envoy for The Development of Families and Children commends San Pedro

The Wife of the Prime Minister and Special Envoy for The Development of Families and Children, Her Excellency Ms. Rassana Briceño, congratulated the San Pedro community for the center that will help those in need to rise up and live the life that they deserve. “As we women and men, we are here to raise each other up and offer support. Not only do children have a home, mothers, women now have a safe place to go,” she said. “San Pedro is leading the way, and our hope is that other towns and districts take up the challenge to do the same.” Briceño was excited to be part of the event and kept encouraging those who believe that domestic violence could be a thing of the past one day.

Area Representative the Honourable Andre Perez described the issue as unacceptable and reminded everyone that it is a daily battle. “The ever-present evil of domestic violence makes families suffer,” he said. “This center is what can be achieved when a community, the private sector, and government come together.” Perez agreed with Briceño and hopes this initiative will be adapted in other parts of the country.

The different services in detail

Hope Haven’s Director of Operations Kristina Romero thanked all the donors (both in Belize and abroad), stakeholders, government, and volunteers that made this new haven possible. She explained that the center would have a permanent officer for the police domestic violence unit on the second floor of the building. Legal aid will be available twice a week for families in crisis by Belizean attorneys. Once a week, a representative will be available from the Women’s Department. Other services include free mental health services. The emergency placement units on the ground floor will provide the person with a kitchen area, dining area, and a bedroom equipped with a crib if the person has a young baby.

The mission of Hope Haven Belize is to expand its services in the community. The plans include building an empowerment center specializing in skills training for women. These training opportunities include massage therapy, refrigeration, and air conditioning training, sewing classes, mechanics training, and financial literacy training.

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