Summer break came to an exciting end for the 20 young residents of the Grand Bahama Children’s Home (GBHC), who were recipients of a special donation and two days of unexpected treats.
The youngsters received three PlayStation 4 Gaming Systems and two containers filled with toys; were treated to a one-day trip to New Providence, courtesy of Freeport Container Port; and enjoyed Pizza Day thanks to a visiting student.
Eleven-year-old Lamaj-Khalel Sweeting, a seventh-grade Bishop Michael Eldon School student, was eager to make the delivery of toys in person.
A YouTuber with his own page, “Supa Gaming,” Lamaj-Khalel said every year he does what is called “the purge”.
“That’s when mummy and daddy help me collect my best clothes and toys to donate,” he explained. “I’m very excited to make this donation to the boys and girls. I just want them to have as much fun as I do when playing online games.
“All children deserve to be happy. I am hoping to come back for a visit and play with them one day. Maybe they can even join me on my YouTube page and play alongside me in a tournament.”
Lamaj-Khalel added that he enjoys giving to others, especially when they really need it.
“When I grow up, I want to help needy people, especially those who are homeless and need food or jobs. For now, I am just spreading happiness,” he said.
A haven for abandoned, abused and neglected children in the Northern Bahamas (Abaco, Bimini and Grand Bahama), GBCH accepts wards from infancy to 14 years. The non-profit organization is governed by The Bahamas Residential Care Act and The Bahamas Child Protection Act.
A nine-member board of directors has oversight of the GBCH. Executive Director June Hutchinson and her team manage the day-to-day operations.
“It’s so good to have young people reach out and give back,” said Hutchinson, receiving the donation on behalf of the children.
“As I’ve said to him, his parents have trained him well as a young child, reaching out to help other people.”
She noted that their training instills in him that he is a part of the bigger community.
“So, for him to start at this age means everything, and I am sure his life is going to be blessed by giving,” Hutchinson said.
Lamaj-Khalel’s generosity serves as an example to others — young and old — to help those less fortunate, Hutchinson added, expressing her gratitude to the young donor and sponsors of the children’s one-day round trip excursion to New Providence.
In honor of its 25th anniversary, the Freeport Container Port (FCP) arranged the special day for the youngsters.
Teams from FCP and its sister company – Freeport Harbour Company — participated in fundraisers in June and July, and with the collective efforts of their corporate partners were able to fund the entertaining day at Baha Bay, Baha Mar for the youngsters, chaperones and volunteers.
The day included hours spent at the waterpark enjoying the themed slides – Stingray Cove, Pirate’s Plunge, The Surf and Turtle Beach. Then, it was on to a private lunch.
“FCP was thrilled to partner with our corporate friends to treat the children to a memorable and joyous experience that they will cherish for years to come,” said a company spokesperson.
H. Forbes Charter Services, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Greg Moss & Associates, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Freeport Ship Services, Bahamasair and Baha Mar, among others, assisted with making the day a success.
The children’s last trip to New Providence was following Hurricane Dorian, after the home was severely damaged due to flooding. It was little over a year before they were able to return to Grand Bahama to a newly renovated residence.
Although they were back in the comfort of the home, COVID put a damper on the daily activities, including visiting times. However, last week, the children had a special guest, Aleksandra Stenbock, who showed up with pizza for everyone.
The 19-year-old Norwegian native was vacationing on island after completing her first year of university study in Barcelona.
Stenbock is majoring in global government economics and legal order, and her goal is to work at the United Nations, helping children around the world.
Having worked at a refugee shelter in her homeland, Stenbock said she really enjoyed that experience.
“So, when my family came to Grand Bahama on vacation, I really felt it would be more purposeful for me to help someone else,” she said.
After brief research, Stenbock found out about the Children’s Home and arrangements were made for her surprise visit to the young residents.
“I wanted to see how the children were doing, how they were living and everything,” she said.
“It was an amazing experience. The children are so polite, grateful, and kind, and all of them are so curious. I will remember the visit forever, even though I was there briefly.”
Stenbock vowed to return to Grand Bahama to volunteer and spend more time with the children.
“Our school encourages us to go abroad for three months and participate in a volunteer program,” she said.
“After being at the Children’s Home, I will definitely ask if it can be included as one of the places to finish that project.
“I think I will learn a lot by just being there.”