Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Wortley Home to open doors again two years after fire

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2016 | 8:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
From left: Keith Sangster, chairman, Wortley Home for Girls; Delate Howell; Tanya Wildish, board member; the Reverend Dr Howard Gregory, bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands; and Andrew Mahfood, chairman, Food For The Poor, at the groundbreaking function on Wednesday.

In a split second, residents of the Wortley Home for Girls in St Andrew went from living in a stable structure to being homeless, after fire destroyed the building last year. However, Tanya Wildish, a member of the board of management, and other stakeholders are anticipating the construction of a new home, which is expected to open in 2017.

Speaking with The Gleaner following the groundbreaking ceremony which took place yesterday, Wildish said though it has been a daunting and challenging task getting the necessary resources in place, it was the duty of every person to reach out to those who are most vulnerable.

The home, which is estimated to cost $46 million, will be constructed by Food For The Poor under a memorandum of understanding with the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

"The girls are doing really good. The transition up to SOS (Children's Village, where the girls are currently living) was a little different but they (SOS) have been very gracious to us. For us, it's a miracle because it is not a big home. We have been here a long time ... but really, it was daunting to think that we could raise $46 million. I think really, it's a God thing," she said.

"We didn't have a hand in it. We didn't know what we were going to do. It just sort of happened before our eyes. We were able to partner with Food For The Poor, which is a huge blessing. We needed their expertise, we needed their backing, they have been an incredible team," she told The Gleaner.

She encouraged citizens to never get weary in serving others.

"In that split second, we thought everything was over. However, in the midst of everything, things will get bigger and better. God is amazing," she said.

"Jamaica has many areas where people can serve. Sometimes, it's not even money, but hands and willing hearts. I call out to young people, especially, to develop a heart for serving. It's worth it," she charged.

Delate Howell, a resident of the home, also attested to the fact that when the home went up in flames, it was huge loss. Howell, who matriculated for the University of the West Indies School of Nursing, will be starting her third year come September.

 

SAFE HAVEN

 

The 21-year-old told The Gleaner that despite not knowing her parents and encountering challenging circumstances, the home provided a safe haven for her to flourish and do well.

"My mother left my sister and I with my grandmother so I don't know my parents. After a while, things got difficult for her (grandmother) so since I was 12 years old, I have been living in a home," said the past student of the Meadowbrook High School who gained eight Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects.

"Before I came to Wortley, I was a very rebellious child, but when you are around persons who show you love and treat you differently, then you get motivated to move forward. It has been a great experience being here," she said.

"I am happy for this new venture. I was at work, actually, when I got the call that the place was on fire. It was shocking and disheartening. I am, however, grateful that things are turning around."