Stuart: We're here for you

beadottin, beadottin@nationnews.com

Added 13 January 2013

011313opening16

Government has pledged its support to philanthropy and the protection of vulnerable groups, especially children. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart made the commitment yesterday before cutting the ribbon to officially open the new $3 million state-of-the-art Violet Gittens Centre at the Nightingale Complex in Black Rock, St Michael. While commending the Barbados Children’s Trust, Child Care Board, Ministry of Family, Youth, Sports and Culture and other stakeholders for bringing to fruition the 26-bed centre which would cater to children with special needs, Stuart said the state also had a crucial role to play. He said while successive Governments of Barbados had, with varying degrees of intensity, applied their minds and efforts to formulating child care policies, including the establishment of the Child Care Board, the current administration was particularly keen on philanthropy. “On the issue of philanthropy, the present Government of Barbados has taken a decision, and that decision is one we took in 2008, to make philanthropy a focus for special incentive. Therefore, the whole purpose of that initiative is to encourage philanthropy in Barbados,” he said. Noting that entities such as the Barbados Children’s Trust, Sandy Lane Trust and Maria Holder Trust were doing excellent philanthropic work, Stuart promised that his Government, which comprised men and women committed to similar ideals, would support them. He said his administration was also “committed to ensuring that we create an environment that [these entities] find congenial and that will allow you to extend the areas of your benefaction, and to continue to benefit the young people of Barbados”. He said the late Violet Gittens, who was born on July 12, 1912, and died in 1994, still lived in terms of her lifelong contribution to child care, and had indeed been a trendsetter in the 1940s when the fight for children’s protection and rights was not as prominent as today. “It is proof that we do not altogether die, because if we have made any impact on the lives of people, the kind of impact we make continues to live with those people and the message of our lives is passed on from generation to generation,” he said. Noting that the centre, which has also replaced the rundown Haynesville Children’s Home, was only possible through the humanitarian motivation of the Barbados Children’s Trust, he said the trust’s members had heard and responded to the voices of the children. “Children represent a vulnerable category in our society and in all societies. Therefore, when people decide they are going to set aside their time, energy and love to minister to the requirements of children, they are to be applauded. It goes to show that they have attained to a very high level of humanity,” Stuart told the audience that included Minister of International Business and International Transport George Hutson, Minister of Education Ronald Jones and St Michael West Central Member of Parliament James Paul. The ceremony also featured the vocal renditions of NIFCA bronze medallist Chad Montplaisir, who sang You Raise Me Up and ward of the Violet Gittens Centre, Trecia O’Neal, who rendered The Greatest Love Of All, as well as other cultural displays. Barbados Children’s Trust director Yvonne Brewer described the centre as “a unique building in Barbados and probably the Caribbean”, noting it had been purpose-built for children with special needs and contained large dormitories and “calming rooms” among other advanced features. (RJ)

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