Executives of the Three Rivers Kids Foundation (TRKF) have expressed their irritation with parents who use their children’s illnesses to solicit money from the public, while misusing the name of the organisation.
According to the President of the Foundation, Jeanette Singh, the goal of the charity-based organisation is to assist under-privileged and sick children to access medical services, which are not readily available in Guyana. Singh made known that since its establishment in 2005 the foundation has helped about 115 patients from Guyana to obtain “life-saving” medical treatment in India.
During a brief telephone interview with Kaieteur News, Singh mentioned that she, along with other members of the foundation, became particularly perturbed after seeing a newspaper article a few days ago, which featured a parent who had received monetary donations from a local charitable organisation towards her child’s corrective heart
surgery in India.
The parent had stated that while her daughter was receiving assistance from the Three Rivers Kids Foundation for the surgery and accommodation in India, finances were still short by US$7,500 (G$1.5M). According to the parent, the sum represented the amount that would still be needed after financial assistance is received from the Ministry of Health.
“She doesn’t know how they will acquire the money, but is hoping for the best. She is asking the public for whatever assistance can be given,” the article stated.
Refuting this, the President of the Foundation informed Kaieteur News that the organisation pays the entire cost for all the children, including medical fees, airfares, accommodation and all medicines.
“Once the child is accepted by Three Rivers Kids Foundation, the family is informed of this.”
Singh added that at no point in time is the parent notified of the overall cost of the surgery and, as such, is not able to ascertain how much money is needed to be raised.
“I have no idea how they come up with these figures. It’s baffling!”
Singh made known that from the time of its establishment until 2007, the Foundation paid the full airfares for the parent who will be accompanying the child. However, this was stopped when it was observed that soon after the families arrive in India, they would be found purchasing expensive items such as mobile phones, digital cameras and alcohol, among others.
“Some families who have sick children in Guyana and require overseas treatment use this opportunity as a means to solicit funds for their own use”.
Singh disclosed that on one occasion, one mother was bragging to others in India that she had collected so much money for her child that she was able to buy a piece of land in Guyana.
Based on those occurrences, Singh said, the Board of Directors of the Foundation then decided that the accompanying parent should contribute towards his or her own airfares for all future missions, as they are able to purchase items that are not related to the child’s surgery. An approximate sum of US$2,500, according to Singh, is enough to cover the airfare.
In order to raise this amount, Singh informed that the families are encouraged to organize and participate in fundraising activities such as Bar-b-ques and bake sales. It was reported that overseas based relatives of the families would often step in to pay for the airfares.
“If, despite genuine efforts, the accompanying parent is unable to raise the funds to pay for his or her airfare, then the foundation will assist that person,” the TRKF President stressed.
Referring to the fact that the parent featured in the recently published article was soliciting some US$7,500, while mentioning that they have been receiving assistance from the Three Rivers Kids Foundation, Singh said that it shows total disregard for legal agreements since the Foundation “does not grant permission to anyone to use our name to collect money in Guyana or anywhere else.”
In cases like these, according to Singh, it is unfortunate that the Foundation will be forced to remove the child from its list of beneficiaries. “We cannot have this kind of misbehaviour and not do anything about it.”
She noted, in this regard, that public-spirited citizens who seek to offer assistance should be vigilant and ask for proof before donating their hard earned money to anyone. She said that the Foundation will be more than happy to answer any questions or confirm any information regarding a patient who needs assistance.
Furthermore, she is urging members of the local media to verify the facts before publishing any article where people are asking for donations. “Some families are well aware that the media will publish anything they tell them and this creates an easy opportunity to
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