A home at last for women in need

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 24, 2019

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Three weeks ago when the mother of a week-old baby went to the Open Arms Development Centre (OADC) seeking refuge, after she was abused by her child's father when she refused to have sex with him, she was turned away.

Even though the women's facility that was opened last Friday was close to completion, it was unable to facilitate her.

“She was quite young and the man is an older man and he really wanted to have sex with her. He was abusing her and the policewoman who brought her was at her wits [end]. It was traumatic. The staff was crying when they saw her but the policewoman was really, really great because she was not going to allow her to suffer. She found someone to take her in and all of that,” OADC administrator and Director Yvonne Grant told the Jamaica Observer at the Windward Road, Kingston, facility.

As of last Friday, the women's facility will now be able to host eight females, between the ages of 18 and 59, who have fallen on hard times.

“Day in, day out we get calls about circumstances of women who have become homeless or will become homeless, technically, in a short space of time,” Grant continued.

According to Grant, a lot of women who are suffering are in great need.

“In the last three weeks we had to turn away two, and even the foreign office called us about another who was going to be involuntarily returned and she was in dire need. We were able to give advice and to direct them to the alternative but the alternatives is not exactly what we offer,” she explained.

The OADC is the home of 90 men who are experiencing difficult times, especially as it relates to financial hardship, substance abuse, among other things.

The non-profit, non-governmental organisation drop in centre' was established in November 2006 to eliminate chronic homelessness in Kingston and St Andrew, by offering care in a homely ambience.

But its mandate soon expanded.

According to Board Director Dr Maureen Irons Morgan, the former Open Arms Centre was renamed two years ago.

“Along with the change of name and new vision, we saw it fit to provide services now not only for men but for women , —because we want to make sure that women where catered for. Our motto continues to be love in action,” Dr Irons Morgan said, adding that there are new entrepreneurial ventures.

In an attempt to positively impact the lives of at least 90 per cent of homeless persons in the capital, participants are taught personal development as well as employable skills.


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