General — 29 September 2015 — by Johnelle McKenzie
U.S. Embassy is taking food out of our children’s mouths, says Dara

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 28, 2015–Do you recall the days when the US Embassy used to give non-immigrant visas free of charge? Now a visa application costs BZ$320, more than a week’s salary for a large number of Belizeans.

This doesn’t guarantee that you will get a visa; neither will your money be refunded if a visa is denied to you, however. Therefore, many Belizeans feel cheated when their visa is denied.
This was exactly how Joel “Dara” Robinson, a born Belizean, felt when the US Embassy refused to give him a visa.
Robinson, 44, told Amandala that he visited the U.S. Embassy for the very first time on Thursday, September 24, to apply for a visa. He said he gathered all his documents and cut his dreadlocks, only to find out that the Consular officer refused to look at his documents that he presented, and told him that he doesn’t “have strong ties to Belize,” and so would be denied a visa.
Robinson said he took this to mean that the Consular officer felt he would go to the USA without any intention of returning to Belize.
The main reason for his visit to the USA, he said, was to solicit funding for food programs that he has been managing for the past eight years, so that children don’t go hungry while attending school. Robinson does this by providing afternoon meals, and said that his feeding program, Dara’s Feeding Program, caters to 43 children from the Southside of Belize City.
Robinson said that he has several partners, whose names he was unable to reveal, in the USA who have been raising funds on his behalf. Robinson continued to state that he was told that he needed to be in the States personally, because those who support his feeding program wanted to meet him.

Robinson said that he doesn’t know what else to do now, since the US Embassy is standing in the way of the opportunities available abroad for him to expand his feeding program for needy Belizean children.

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