Friday, January 19, 2018

15 years of rescue

Home for boys celebrates milestone


HAVING FUN: Former president’s wife, Jean Ramjohn-Richards, and Rainbow Rescue founder Judy Wilson share a moment with the boys of Rainbow Rescue.

Mark Fraser


NEW HOME: Rainbow Rescue home for boys recently celebrated its 15th anniversary with an intimate get-together. –Photos: CURTIS CHASE

Mark Fraser

Rainbow Rescue, a home for boys, has a lot to celebrate lately.

Not only have the young occupants of the home moved into their new home where there is more space and more comfortable amenities, the home also recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. 

Officials at the home recently hosted a humble anniversary get-together with the boys at the new Saddle Road, Maraval, location in which specially invited guests, who included the home’s patron, former president’s wife Jean Ramjohn-Richards, as well as longtime supporters, were invited to spend some time with the youngsters in their new home.

Rainbow Rescue opened its doors in 2001 giving hope to child and adolescent victims of various types of abuse as well as neglect. The home started with its founder Judy Wilson doing charity work for homeless adults, which planted the seed for her to turn her efforts to helping at-risk boys and eventually securing a permanent home and safe environment for her young charges. 

Wilson said the last 15 years have been tough but well worth the challenge. Rainbow Rescue can facilitate 14 children but currently ten boys between the ages of eight and 18 call Rainbow Rescue their home. Wilson said the boys have settled nicely since their transition in December 2013 and are comfortable in their new environment. 

Moving to Maraval is a great achievement for Rainbow Rescue. Wilson initially housed the socially displaced youngsters at her home before moving to a building in St James, where they spent two years before moving  to an abandoned North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) building in Jerningham Place in Belmont, a property leased to them by the Government.

The Jerningham Place building, however, posed a serious health and safety risk for its occupants until Wilson received a blessing in disguise when they were asked to relocate as the Government had plans for the NWRHA building they called home.

 In 2011, the Government granted them a lease on a dilapidated building at 2 Saddle Road in Maraval that had no functional infrastructure and was being occupied by vagrants. Through donations from private citizens and corporate agencies, the home is now a beautiful two-storey structure equipped with all the amenities necessary for the welfare and progress of its occupants. 

Wilson said her aim was not to host a gala anniversary celebration but instead a small, intimate gathering to appreciate longtime supporters, to treat the children and to celebrate moving into the new premises. She said getting the home restored to its present condition was a challenge but instead wanted to focus on Rainbow Rescue’s future and its success stories over the years.

Wilson has one hope—that the necessary programmes be implemented for parents so that in time the children could return home. The children are allowed to stay at Rainbow Rescue until age 18 because, in some instances, their homes are extremely volatile and abusive, making reunion with their parents impossible.

“We were given this building in 2011, but we started work in 2012 and we finished late last year. It was just a shell that vagrants used to occupy. We have a lot of people to thank for getting this home to what it is right now. There are so many people who came forward and we want to thank all of them. Whether they helped us in a big or small way, all of the assistance we received is significant. 

“We are not doing any major celebration, but we wanted to treat the children and some of our very loyal volunteers. The former first lady is our patron and every year she would come and bring pizza and other things for the children, so this is how we are celebrating it. We just moved in here; we are settled in. It’s a month since we are here and the boys have transitioned well. They love it here.  I am very happy and the boys are happy to move into this new home,” Wilson said. 

“All the children are in school. We have a newcomer who is 14. He has never been to school so we will probably start home-schooling him and see where we go from there.  We have some success stories. We have past students who are married and are working and so on.  We would really like to see the children reunited with their parents, but for many of them this is not possible because the fact is that there is no help for their parents. We need more programmes for parents because the kids come here and we show them a different way of life but the parents are still practising a certain lifestyle—drinking, drugs or being abusive and so on. A lot of times they leave here at 19 and 20 years old,” Wilson said.