Makeover for 'Mary's children' - Pregnant teens in state care get Christmas cheer
Their internal scars cannot be hidden by make-up, and not even the most relaxing massage can erase their traumatic past, but a makeover given to the group of pregnant teenage girls at the Mary's Child Children's Home in St Andrew last Monday was sufficient to boost their confidence and remind them that they are not alone.
The makeover was provided to the 18 girls at the facility and their housemothers by a team from the Shades of Elegance and Bella Day Spa.
The girls had their hair done and were provided with manicures, pedicures, and massages before being fÍted in style at a dinner hosted by their visitors.
Administrator for the home, Nadia Williams, said that the girls look forward to the makeovers at this time of the year, and the visits from others who try to treat them special.
"We cater to girls who have been victims of rape, incest, and carnal abuse," said Williams.
"For some of the cases, the abuse took place at home and so the girls are unable to go back to that location," she added as she noted that many of the girls have no family contact.
It is for this reason that she describes her job as bittersweet and why she is grateful when people take the time to bring the girls cheer.
"The situations that the girls are in definitely is the sad aspect of the work, but it is really a pleasure working with these young ladies and getting the opportunity to give these ladies a second chance at life and see them fulfilling their goals. It is a beautiful experience," said Williams.
"In the initial stage, when they come, usually from the court, they are always sad; always sad and crying because you know children want to be where family is. Everybody wants to be with family," Williams told The Sunday Gleaner.
Like a doting mother, Williams could not hide her smile as she witnessed the obvious joy displayed by the girls during their makeovers.
"Of course, they are teenagers, so they like to be pampered, and last year it was a beautiful experience. They got makeovers and a nice little gathering party afterwards. So they got their massages and they got manicures, pedicures, and their hair done," said Williams, who has been the administrator of the home for the last 10 years.
Salon owner Treacha Reid-McCalla said that giving back to the home is an extension of her drive to help to boost people's confidence.
"I want to be somebody who assists in making you feel better than how you feel, and I am trying for my team to be the same way," said the beauty expert, who started her business 17 years ago and now employs more than 20 women at the salon's two locations.
"Because they are young and not living with a parent, I know that must be very difficult," added Reid-McCalla.
She said her team, aided by sponsors, have visited a number of homes over the years to do makeovers free of cost, however, about three years ago, she made a decision to focus her efforts on the girls at the Mary's Child Children's Home and the Yadel Home for Girls in Old Harbour, St Catherine.
According to Reid-McCalla, the intention is to try and visit the homes every three months instead of waiting until the end of the year to do the makeovers.
She said several sponsors have already pledged their commitment to help make this a reality and she has encouraged her employees to each mentor one of the girls.
"Sometimes, even though we know what we are about and we know what we want, we need guidance as to how to achieve it in a more efficient way. So that is really the focus," she said.
Chief executive officer of the recently launched Child Protection and Family Services Agency, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said that the organisation was grateful for the contribution made by the team from the salon.
EVERYONE CAN GIVE BACK
"This time of the year is difficult for most of these girls. Some can't get to go home, it gets lonely for some of them and so anything we do, we try to get them to feel like they are at home, and Mary's Child has been that for these girls," said Gage-Grey, as she argued that the visit by the makeover team is proof that everyone can give back in their own way.
"We have been trying to push corporate Jamaica to look at the needs some more and to partner with us. We launched CDA (Child Development Agency) Care earlier, which is a voluntary entity, where we are trying to get corporate Jamaica to sponsor homes. Sometimes it is not monetary things, just the presence of their staff," added Gage-Grey.