Cherish the children
A home and family things that most people take for granted are the very things that many children abandoned or orphaned and left in the custody of Social Services dream about every day.
According to the Minister of State for Social Development, Loretta Butler-Turner, there are about 200 children in need of care and the limits of the ministry are constantly extending to accommodate the ever-growing need.
However, a breath of fresh air has come to ease this strain as The Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church(BCMC), in conjuction with residents of Current Island, Eleuthera, have teamed up to build a children’s home on the island.
Bill Higgs, president of the BCMC, said that the idea to undertake the project came from the humble desires of the residents of Current Island. They saw the growing need to help the many children of the nation without a place to go by donating their inherited land to build a state of the art children’s home for the nation with the assistance of the BCMC.
“This children’s Home ,which will be called Zion Children’s Home, is the result of faith in play,”said the pastor.”There was no idea as to how the monies would be raised or how everything would happen. But the sisters who wanted this to happen were determined to see it through.
“There is definitely a need for this to happen as I am aware that there are about 19 children who have to live at Princess Margaret Hospital because they have no where to go. They eat, sleep, go to school and live there. This alone proves that there is indeed a need for more places for these children to be. This project will not only be for Methodists, or children of Eleuthera in need, but for the nation and every child in need.”
The home, which is currently under construction, is planned to be able to house 60 children who will be divided into seven cottages. Eight children will be assigned to each building and will be under the care of a house parent. Some of the Current Island residents have already volunteered their time to take up this position when the facility opens.
Minister Higgs said that this initiative is one that will not only help children in need but will also benefit the island. When the home is inhabited at its full capacity the island’s population will double and the school-age children will triple.
“We think Current Island is the best place to have a children’s home because it is remote enough to allow them to have a true island-living experience but close enough to Nassau and mainland Eleuthera in case of emergencies,”said Minister Higgs.”The kids will learn fishing and farming so they can be self-sufficient. They will be living in a more home-like environment instead of a dormitory institution kind of place. They will feel as close to home as we can hope to make them. This will be a great environment for the kids that will come. We are really looking forward to it.”
Many supporters, donors and volunteers have been active in the process to make this children’s home a reality. Thus far two of the seven buildings planned are already under construction, and throughout the year and years to come, major fundraisers will be held to complete this ambitious initiative.
The pastor said that this project has gone beyond the boundaries of Eleuthera or one Methodist church. It now involves the entire local Methodist circuit as well as volunteers from the United States who fly in to lend a hand. This project has been so inspiring that local officials are stunned by the momentum it has built and the determination of the groups involved to see it through.
“I’m so excited about what is happening,”said Minister Loretta Butler-Turner.
“I first heard about the plans for a children’s home to be built on Current Island in 2008. That was the first time I had ever visited the island and I had a feeling of joy and anticipation. I had met the four sisters who had the initial idea and I was really happy about it. I just knew that what they had envisioned would happen but I didn’t imagine that it would happen so quickly,”she said.
Butler-Turner said that the goodwill behind the project made her pay attention and really believe in the goal. Her faith in the strength and determination to make this project come together was deepened when the driving force, the matriarch behind the process, Myrtis Brown, died last year.
Butler-Turner said that for a moment she was saddened as she thought that the dream would die as well. The remaining three sisters quickly made it clear that even with the demise of their loved one, the dream was very much alive and it would be pursued until it was realized.