Representatives of Variety the Children???s Charity International, currently in Barbados for their 87th Annual World Conference, came in for high praise from Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett.
Speaking at their 87th Annual World Conference at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa this morning, Mr. Blackett described their work as a ???blessing to Barbados???.
He said that ???over the years, because of the work of this charity, many families have been blessed, many tears have been wiped away???and many organisations and hospital wings have been beneficiaries of much needed assistance???.
In terms of the organisation???s efforts locally, Mr. Blackett noted that whether it was in the form of medical assistance by providing insulin pumps or in financing other urgent care equipment, their work was touching family life directly and effectively.
??????I am particularly heartened by the assistance given to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the million dollar expansion of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. You are the first charity to have assisted in this area, and your assistance extended to social events for children at the institution, which is of great importance to this Government,??? the Social Care Minister added.
Mentioning the charity???s Future Kids Programme for special needs and disadvantaged children, the Minister lauded the charity for catering to a segment of the society which was often ???uncatered to???.
???Throughout Barbados, the Variety sunshine coaches have become a powerful symbol for what children with mobility issues and other special needs can achieve when given the opportunity to explore the wider world,??? he said, adding that they provided transportation for the children to and from school, to therapy and excursions.
Variety???s ???Heart for Heart??? programme, which assists children with congenital heart disease, was also highlighted by Minister Blackett as an initiative which continued to make a significant and positive impact on this island???s children and their families.
???The Government of Barbados continues to do all in its power to assist the affected parents with getting the requisite surgeries for their children; however, the task is a large one and we are very grateful that there are organisations like the Variety Club that come on board and assist us in this special area,??? he asserted.
He added that this included Paediatric Cardiologist Jose Ettedgui coming to Barbados to perform up to 20 interventional procedures annually on Barbadian children, at a highly reduced cost.
???The aim is to sustain this programme through tripartite funding, with Variety International, Variety Barbados and the Government of Barbados. I am particularly pleased that our own Dr. Richard Ishmael, a local cardiologist, is on board,??? Minister Blackett revealed, while lauding the support offered by both medical practitioners.
This year???s world conference will also see the recognition of contributors to Variety???s work. These include Senator Kerry-Ann Ifill and Dame Olga Lopes-Seale (posthumous), who will receive the 2014 Catherine Variety Sheridan Award; while Barbados Advocate reporter Kerry Gooding will receive the 2014 Media Award for Variety of Barbados.
Variety International was established in 1928, while the Barbados chapter was formed in 1994.