IT HAS been nearly four years since a fire razed the dormitory building of the Jamaica National Children’s Home (JNCH), in August 2019.
Administrators are still faced with the challenge of not being able to house the full number of children who can be accommodated at the privately run orphanage.
Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Yanique Thomas-Shepherd, administrator of the home, explained that the number of children being cared for has dwindled to 34 special needs residents.
She added that prior to the fire, the dormitories could house 60 children.
“We used to have both special needs children and able-bodied children but since the fire, we’re only able to assist the special needs children,” she said.
She bemoaned that because of the fire, operations had also been negatively impacted, forcing the JNCH to make several workers redundant. The home, which is in Papine, St Andrew, further had to relinquish a location which it used to house the children in December 2021.
“We are not able to impact as many lives as we normally would be able to do and then we had to make some of the staff redundant and a lot of those members have been with us for a long time, for years,” she said.
Labour Day activities
As part of the many individuals engaged in various Labour Day activities last Tuesday, Cranston Ewan, chief executive officer, and 15 staff members of the 138 Student Living Jamaica Limited participated in the cleaning up activities and renovating the administrative building, which was also impacted by the fire.
Ewan explained that 138 Student Living has been a longstanding partner with the home and has informally adopted them, as it continued to offer assistance where possible.
“This is key for us because we consider the children to be our future and therefore, it’s no science why we have selected them as our Labour Day project and continue to work in this area,” he said.
“For us, it’s the children from the root coming up to the fruit and that’s why also, we are planting trees so that they can benefit from that … and to be able to be sustainable,” Ewan added.
Thomas-Shepherd told The Gleaner that the works done to the administrative building to restore it as a place of comfort for the workers was phase one of a two-phased plan of works needed to be done, as phase one focused on the restoration of the buildings impacted.
She added that the intention was to engage in phase two within the year, but that funding was needed. She has made a special plea to the general public to assist in this regard.
Those interested to assist can contact (876) 927-2452 or (876) 808-2179.