Lessthan a tenth of street children helpedby agencies
BY NICOLA RAMANAND Observer r t o / l i ~ p r r e r
F E W E R than a tenth of the children who l i r e and work on Jamaican stroclr benefit from any rolisl from tho harsh slrecl life. such as offered by roluntar? vulnerable group. with this agencies rho work
Checks with thr handful of ngrncier vho inlervcne lo M e w difficulties faccd hy meel kids across ihr island show lhvl fewr than 1.Mof the eslimaled 1O.W slreel children are cnrolled in
m y of lheir programmer. Covcrnmrnl cumsly orotrmlme lo helo there unfonunalc children and iim&ble to re1 onehp.
Those in programmer may be assured of at lerrk one meal a day. roarwhere lo rlcep a night$. a drily shouer and classes in remedial mrthr and English. But the agencies ray !hey are deeply ~onccnlc ahou! the rcmainine 9.Wor so children. mostly boys.
almal w e lire of crinre.
Alvd McK~nzic il coun\ulinr ltith [hi. Smionrl Iniliafire fur Slrcct Childrc8l INISCI. nhich up till reccntly car4 for 20 boys in Kinrwn. *xir thc chiidrr.n ncicomnl ihc mcrl. hul i t is rcallv hope thnf lhr? craved.
"They urn! lo know whal life hold* fcr then>. whether rlreel life is all they have lo took fomd to." she wid.
Pan of the NlSC programme wr, cxporure to reading and maths. For Mckenzic i t wa- amazing lo see theirrerponres.
"You think they need sheller ;wJ tcxxl. hut that's no1 il."she mid. "They will refuse f w d a> mud. Some of them don't want any help with their li\,ine rilu;dons. The? want to learn lo read and write."
McKenzie rayr when lhc? ;trc cqmsell lo readinp and
mshernnlier and urn
i~nprcnemm!.they hlurrom. She
the clarscr. coming
eady and stqing wn wll .tlwt,
"The) w m x r ) ~ m i!. Ihr) would come frm well before nine and stay t m i i ti~csometin~cev.en though the programme is from 9 l Y I an) iv 3:W pm. Icouldn'l get any work done in my
omce.,\nd they ~ homework."
~here id'ling. ~ h c were here
To McKcnzic and other caansellors, the imervcnlion of ih~. agencies makc a world ufdifkmnce for (he boys. The proof is in the sea change in their ovllook erpecirlly when lhcy are brought in early enough.
MeKenzit d ~ e anistic expression as onc of her counrelling
tools. urging the boys lo dmw lhcir lives in the pan. present and f.i-ll.ll..-.
"For the lhcn drawings we a e a lot ofguns, rordblocb. a man going down into ihc mof ofa house ...all mns oflhingr." rhc raid.
"Now they draw thcmrclver in a classmom reading. In their drawing of the future we rcc truck drivers. chefs. wen a few leachem:
Dorcllc Jones. the administrative assistant for the LEAP Ccnue. downtown Kingston raid the children change drartically,
:especially histile lo
after early hopeful in a
exposure to shin time.
p r o g r a m m e . -
"We get romc who arc very angry and most of them have low
self-esteem." Jones raid. "but shcr counrclling and motivational talks they change. They stan to e themselves as someone wonhwhile. I1helps them tosee tila they nrs as gmd as anybody elre, no maltcr whal their situation"
The LEAP E m -
offers vocational training and basic literacy
lo 170 children. I t has
small residential facility which
accommndales 20 childmn and provides them with meals. clothing and medical allention for the lwo-ysar duration of the
At the Weslem Society for the Upliflm~ntof Children in Montego Bay. them has not been a fight among the ehildren since the beginningo f the new term in January
Forthe counrsllorr @hiis a msior achievement. '"If you eamc hem in ~splcmb;r,you wwouU"o8 be able to hear me. the children were $0 loud." rayr Glenda Drummond. itdminirtrntor 'The noise and the badwords ...lhcv were ivrt raw. very raw." she sud. . .
Beeruse of that in the first term. D ~ m n l o n dand her counsellorr concentrate heavily on connicr resoludon.
"We had a fight nearly e r e q dry wilh knives m d olhcr kinds of harn>fuiweapons . at nrrr it war jur, noire m d chaos. But now they have really sellled down m d Ihc? have rlnned to work.
.Fightiand okcr disruptive'bchaviour hom the$ boyr led to them being asked lo give up the clarrmom in which they held lhcir remedial math and English r u ~ i o nand vwalirmal tnining. The programme was relocated to the LEAP Cenm on Duke S k n . Downtown, but the boys who x m U y b e d i n Half- WayTrec and New Kingston find i t difficuh-to travel rhs distance.
'This is such a blow to our system." l m n u McKcmie. 'The boys have slopped going. And UKy have been disappointed a. much already. Il'r going lo be very difficult to win back Uleir confidence."
She or rppcsleng lo anyone who has a suatabk awlable spec lo awn them. as the pmgrammc ncrdr to be rntartcd urgently "He 1~811)nrcd somewhere. I f them is anvonc out there who h a somewhck lo lease, porribly on neuval b u n d a a m n a h l e rate. pleasecontact us."
LEAP has also outgrown its Duke Sueel facilities. There are currently 170 children enrolled in L W , 20 more than the capacity. "We have to be referring children lo other agencies. bccause we don't wsnl to wafer down the programme." rays Edwards. The residentialsection only accommodates 20 persons. hul there is a great demand for this facility We definitely need ,nore *"Pcc."
"Wearc trynp lo get some land across the street. Bul milthat