Regional

A kitchen for Garland Hall

American-based Wannabees undertakes US$8,000 improvement at St James children’s home

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 21, 2014    

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ANCHOVY, St James — MEALS for the more than 20 wards of the state at the Garland Hall Memorial Children's Home in Anchovy are now being prepared in a more comfortable environment.

This, as the Wannabees, a US-based charitable group, recently constructed a kitchen at the institution at a cost of roughly US$8,000.

"We chose this project because from the first time we visited Garland Hall in 2011, we knew we would like to make their lives a bit better by improving their kitchen. It was extremely small, inefficient and inadequate for a home with between 25 and 30 children, plus staff," Sharon Haver, the head of the group, told the Jamaica Observer West.

The project included the removal old termite-infested fixtures, replacing them with more durable ones and the re-construction of the flooring, outfitting it with ceramic tiles, as well as the installation of new plumbing fixtures.

"First they began busting up the old tile floor in the old kitchen and busted up a cement counter and took out a wall, then they framed up the floor area of the new section. Then everybody got involved by forming a line and passing buckets of sand and rocks up the hill to the new section. All the Wannabees and the children at the orphanage helped," said a member of the group, referring to the first day's work on the project.

Sydia Smith, the director at the Garland Hall Memorial Children's Home, expressed delight at the new facility.

"I can't even find words to express our gratitude. We are so, so happy and I really want to thank them (the Wannabees) for their assistance. Now, we are very comfortable because the space we had was very, very small," she explained.

The Garland Hall Memorial Children's Home, formerly known as Pansy Garden, was completed in 1957.

Since then, additions have been made to the facility, including a sick bay, boys' dormitory, matron's quarters and a multi-purpose area.

The home, which is run by the Jamaica Baptist Union and sponsored by the Jamaica Baptist Women's Federation, accommodates up to 35 children, most of whom are wards of the state, sent to the institution by the Child Development Agency.

"We really love the children and staff at Garland Hall. What is so remarkable about them is their positive and loving attitude, while having so little. The children don't have parents to tuck them in bed at nights or many of the other things that parents do, but we never hear them complain," Haver argued.

She also lauded the director of the facility for her role in caring for the wards of the state under her care.

"Miss Smith does an outstanding job as director of the home. I don't think most people realise what it takes to care for that many children seven days a week and what she and other staff members sacrifice by not being able to be home with their own families," she emphasised.

Haver told the Observer West that she has been bringing groups to the island since 2009. Since then, she said, the Wannabees has undertaken a raft of projects at several children's home across St James.

These include a major contribution to playground equipment and the provision of strollers to the Blossom Gardens Children's Home; the donation of a desk, weed eater, clothes and other items to Westhaven Children's Home; and the construction of a bathroom at Garland Hall Children's Home.

The Wannabees has donated a refrigerator to the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Anchovy and has painted the buildings at Garland Hall.

The Wannabees began as a Bible Study and Mission Group in 2003.

In 2009, while on a family vacation in Jamaica, members were introduced to the needs at several children's homes in St James.

"Our first mission trip was in July of 2009 and since then we have had eight groups travel to Jamaica to love the children and help in other ways. Our primary purpose is to love the children, spend time with them and show them that God loves them. We are a small organisation with a lot of love to share," Haver said.

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