Homestead wards urged to make most of second chance
DESPITE being separated from their families and facing various struggles in life, wards at the all-female Homestead Childcare Facility in Stony Hill, St Andrew, were yesterday urged to continue to strive for excellence.
The encouragement came yesterday from Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Karl Samuda, who was guest speaker at a gift-giving ceremony at the home.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You can’t undo what has happened in the past. The problem in the world is that too often we concentrate on what has happened to us in the past,” Samuda told the girls.
Samuda had first met the girls in July, while they were on a trip to the Constant Spring Road branch of Island Grill to celebrate the success of one of their colleagues who had graduated from secondary school with two awards. The minister had gone to the facility to have lunch and was approached by the girls who invited him to come to the home and share his story with them and to answer some of their questions.
“I believe in imparting, especially to young people, some of my experiences. I understand some of the struggles that you have had to endure,” he told the girls as he delved into his life story and the struggles he faced prior to entering politics 29 years ago. He said he too knew what it felt like to be given a second chance, having been “taken out of high school for two years”, for “helping” to set his school’s cricket field on fire.
Samuda, especially implored the girls to respect their bodies, and reminded them that having a baby too young does not make them a woman.
“I lament every day the fact that so often I have seen some of the most promising young women and young girls; bright, attractive, well mannered with a great future throw it away because of the lack of respect for their bodies and the giving of themselves at an early age, leading to pregnancy that destroys their future,” he said.
The minister expressed the desire to see the girls seize the opportunity of a second chance and to achieve their goals.
“Take your lessons seriously, study hard, set goals that at this age might seem unattainable,” he said.
Six of the girls from the home were awarded for being the most talented, most disciplined, most helpful, most improved and for being honest and performing best overall academically.
Children’s officer at the Child Development Agency Investigative Unit, Keisha Tomlinson, also left the girls with some encouraging words.
“Some of them will become nurses, some of them will become owners of their own businesses. I am convinced that some of them will go into any area they choose,” she said.
The girls also encouraged each other through poetry. The general theme of overcoming obstacles, improving self and working hard, came out in the poems recited by three of the girls at the home.
Reigning Miss Homestead, 17-year-old Shernette Evans, used her poem to encourage her colleagues to “hold on, hold strong”.
Evans, who has been living at the home for the past eight months, said that being in the home has given her a second chance.
“I like the fact that we have the opportunity to further our education,” she said.
Samuda, in the meantime, ended his speech by imploring the girls not to allow the “bling bling” lifestyle to take them off their course to succeed.
“You must build your life on a sound foundation of hard work, self-development, educate yourself. The greatest liberator comes through education,” he said.