Interview with Kim Simplis Barrow
Interview With Kim Simplis Barrow
Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children, Global Ambassador for Special Olympics, and Founder and Director of the Lifeline Foundation, Kim Simplis Barrow, who is the wife of the Prime Minister of Belize, offers healthcare and therapy services for children with disabilities. At Belize’s national referral center for children with disabilities, The Inspiration Centre, caters to children with disabilities up to the age of 16. The Centre is unique due to its merging of two health service delivery models, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and medical service, which ensure that children with disabilities receive the holistic care they need.
Since opening on April 14, 2014, the Centre has assessed and provided rehabilitation services to over 1,500 children at its headquarters in Belize City for a small fee of US $5. In addition to this, the Centre’s Rehabilitation Field Officers (RFOs) have an additional 315 clients across the country, who receives community-based rehab services within their homes at no cost to the family. As an NGO, The Inspiration Center fundraises and relies on the generosity of donors and philanthropists, as well as subventions from government to meet overhead costs. With continued financial and technical support, the Centre hopes to phase in its other programs, which include multi- sensory therapy, after-school and summer programs and a reading room to create a truly holistic and inclusive environment.
Mrs. Simplis Barrow, who lives in Belize with her family, is a woman on the go, and she describes her style as simple yet chic. Whenever it comes to style or fashion, she always thinks of ‘comfort’ first. I met her last spring when I styled her for a 1920’s themed dinner party. I found her to be modest, very friendly, and full of life. I could tell that she had an interest in fashion when I talked to her about what she should wear for her event. She presented images of very tasteful ideas from beautiful beaded dresses to cloche hats.
Please tell us, what inspired Mrs. Barrow to start the Special Envoy for Women and Children?
Mrs. Barrow was appointed by the Government of Belize as Special Envoy for Women and Children in 2008. Therefore it was not something that was created. Her appointment to the post arose from the recognition of her work through the Lifeline Foundation which she established in 2006. The Lifeline Foundation focuses on improving the quality of life for the children of Belize.
The Foundation has assisted children from all walks of life, with all types of needs and abilities. Mrs. Barrow gladly accepted the appointment as Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children because she saw it as the ideal platform to extend her reach and amplify her efforts on behalf of Belizean children and to work more directly with and on behalf of her Belizean sisters.
How has this changed the lives of poor children?
Mrs. Barrow gladly accepted the appointment as Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children because she saw it as the ideal platform to extend her reach and amplify her efforts on behalf of Belizean children and to work more directly with and on behalf of her Belizean sisters.
Please amplify on children’s healthcare and those with disabilities in Belize.
There is so much that needs to be done in the areas of disabilities and child friendly healthcare in Belize, as there is truly a dearth of services. Being cognizant of the many needs of children fueled her passion and commitment to help vulnerable children and children with disabilities to break barriers and reach their full potential. The Inspiration Center and the Pediatric Intensive Care Wing at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital have changed the lives of poor children and children with disabilities through a synergy of integrated care services.
Please discuss the medical experts who staff the Centres.
Both facilities offer children the opportunity to lead happy, healthy lives. I have heard from local Belizeans that finding specialist doctors can be challenging. As state of the art facilities, both Centres have caught the attention of medical experts from abroad who have travelled to Belize to train local medical professionals and provide voluntary health and therapy services to children accessing services at both facilities. Because both facilities are fully equipped, medical experts can easily assist with treatment services.
Here at Jejune, we cannot express how much we love the 20,000 STRONG Women’s Empowerment Campaign. Can you please tell us what inspired the creation of 20,000 STRONG, and how it has been impacting the women in Belize?
Mrs. Barrow has always been extremely passionate about women’s empowerment. This is why, in March of 2014, she launched the 20,000 STRONG Women’s Empowerment Campaign, which featured two national rallies which mobilized thousands of Belizean women from across the nation and from all spheres of society in celebration of our collective accomplishments. In Belize, there has been good progress in key areas of women’s rights, but there is still more work to be done. One area they continue to grapple with is women’s economic empowerment. Many barriers exist that block women from accessing capital or becoming financially independent.
Through her newly established SHE for BELIZE Foundation, under the banner of 20,000 STRONG, Mrs. Barrow continues to empower women by financially supporting female entrepreneurs via loans and/or grants, training and identifying mentors to accompany women in their business journey. She continues to highlight the need for health and family life education in schools and in the media, the need for information on women’s sexual and reproductive health, the need for creative means of distributing contraceptives, the development of an educational campaign around HIV/AIDS prevention through the use of prophylactics and the need for universal health coverage and access to integrated health and social services for citizens infected and affected by HIV /AIDS. With a solid focus on physical and economic health, the campaign continues to positively impact Belizean women; especially women in rural areas.
If someone wants to help get involved or donate to any of the Special Envoy for Women and Children programs, what is the best way they can go about doing this?
The best way to get involved or donate to any of the Special Envoy’s programs is to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 501-223-1941/2
Produced by Alison Hernon, Jejune Magazine
Special thanks to Kim Simplis Barrow's team at the Special Envoy for Women & Children & Kira Bucca, Jejune Magazine