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It takes passion, says RISE Life boss

BY DENISE DENNIS Observer staff reporter dennisd@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012    

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SONITA Morin-Abrahams, who has been with RISE Life Management Services since its formation 22 years ago, says her passion to help people is what keeps her going, despite the funding difficulties being experienced by the non-governmental organisation (NGO).

"It is very difficult when you are running these projects [as] each project has its own set of requirements; it has its reporting requirements and financial requirements... Then we have our administrative expenses, so we do our fund-raising with the public and private sector. We are a small body but we are always wearing many hats, always juggling; we are stretched to the max," Morin-Abrahams said of RISE Life's extensive programme offerings.

RISE Life Management Services is a non-profit organisation that provides educational, vocational and health-related services to at-risk individuals, including those suffering from addictive disorders.

With just three full-time employees and 15 project staff members, along with an insufficient budget, the organisation struggles just to reach the persons it was established to help.

However, Morin-Abrahams, speaking at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, said through prayer and faith, she believes RISE Life will find a way to continue impacting inner-city communities and transforming lives, by empowering youth to become leaders.

"To do this work, you have to have a passion for the work; you have to truly love and believe in what you are doing and you have to have tremendous faith," said Morin-Abrahams, who is the NGO's executive director.

"When I know we are facing a deficit and we might have to lay off staff, I don't get bent out of shape about it; I pray about it and I know that something is going to come that's going to allow us to continue, and it always does," she added. "It's about saving and transforming lives. What could be better than that?"

She called on the privileged persons in society to give back in some way, either financially or through volunteerism.

"I grew up [living] a privileged life. I really didn't have to struggle. So for me, it's about giving back, and if every Jamaican — whether they struggled or not — could give back, we wouldn't have any problem," she said. "We would be able to feed every child and educate every child and give every child the opportunity to be a healthy, happy, successful individual."

RISE Life Management Services currently operates in eight communities in Kingston and St Andrew — Parade Gardens, (Tel-A-Viv and Southside), Fletcher's Land, Allman Town, Drewsland, Waterhouse, Majesty Gardens, Tower Hill and Seiveright Gardens.

The organisation currently works with some 840 persons, including 250 youth between the ages of 15 and 24, and 300 who are parents.

It also offers Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate exam classes to 100 adults, some of whom are high school dropouts who do classes in the evenings. Programmes are offered to children as young as eight, while a remedial education programme, that includes life and conflict resolution skills, is offered to adolescents. There is also a focus on extra-curricular development and the performing arts.

RISE Life also provides prevention, treatment and intervention for youth and adults with substance abuse and gambling addictions.

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