Wed | May 24, 2017

RURAL EXPRESS - Portland rehab in desperate need of funding and support

Published:Saturday | December 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Robert Florea, chairman, Port Antonio Rehabilitation Centre.
Some of the baby chicks reared by residents at the Portland Rehabilitation Centre.
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Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

PORT ANTONIO, Portland:

HIS JOB as chairman of the Port Antonio Rehabilitation Centre is one that demands love, patience, and tolerance, and that is just what Robert Florea, a United States citizen, has displayed, while caring for indigents at that facility.

Florea, who took up residence in Jamaica in 1988, has developed a caring relationship with the less fortunate who are under his charge, many of whom are homeless, abandoned by family members, destitute, and of unsound mind.

"My role as chairman is a full-time job. The residents are warm and friendly at this facility, which is an indication that they require love and attention. We are all one big happy family here, and even the staff is passionate about caring for those who are considered to be less fortunate," said Florea. But despite the love and caring, we might be forced to close the facility, as without funding or any form of assistance, we will not be able to continue operating for much longer."

According to Florea, since the
resignation of Dr Paul Rhodes, a former chairman who single-handedly
absorbed the cost of running the facility for the better part of 10
years, the overhead cost, coupled with staff payments and the purchasing
of food is taking a toll.

And although the 24
residents at the rehab facility are engaged in a practice of
self-reliance by participating in a little backyard farming and rearing
of chickens for their own consumption, the expenses are
mounting.

The high cost of electricity and water
bills, which have to be paid on a monthly basis, along with the
purchasing of food items, medication, toiletries, detergent, and
clothing, are just some of the mounting expenses facing the
facility.

Not in vain

"It cannot be
that after all our efforts, these residents, who are in dire need of
love and care and day-to-day attention will have to return back to the
street, where they will once again become the scourge of society. We
have a wonderful programme at this facility, where everyone is engaged
in prayer and worship. They have also learned how to make beads and
earrings, which are sold at the craft market. Everyone is comfortable
and happy, and I wouldn't want that to be taken away from
them."

And with each passing day, the cost of running
the facility becomes even more daunting, which has resulted in staff
members volunteering their services for extended periods - a move that
has created a serious strain on them, as they too have expenses and
family members to take care
of.

rural@gleanerjm.com