Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Annie Dawson Home pushes through hurdles

Published:Tuesday | May 16, 2017 | 5:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Chief Executive Officer of the Child Development Agency Rosalee Gage-Grey (left) with Errol Miller, executive chairman of the FLOW Foundation, at the launch of CDA Cares, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel last Tuesday evening.

A 1996 Toyota Haice minibus currently transports some 20 children at the Annie Dawson Home for Children to and from school on a daily basis - a task that presents numerous challenges.

Ivaline Nickie, manager at the St Andrew-based home, noted that this need for transportation is among several demands that currently exist. Speaking with The Gleaner following the launch of the Child Development Agency's Volunteer Programme, CDA Cares, last Tuesday, she also pointed out that there was urgent need for a deep freezer to store goods and perishables.

"We call it 'Mr Faithful' (the bus)," she said with a burst of laughter.

"It's a major need. I have to be making a number of trips every day, which is quite expensive. We have children who use wheelchairs and walkers, and so they can't manage the public transport system. I feel more comfortable when I transport my children to and from school. They all go to school, and so if we had a bigger bus, we would be able to take everyone comfortably," Nickie said.

"We need a deep freezer, because what we have to do now is put a partition (in the one we have) so that we can keep dry stuff away from raw stuff. It would be much healthier if we could keep the raw stuff separated, but we do make the demarcation though, so that we can keep the family healthy. However, the public health department has been on our case because it's really not the most ideal," she lamented.

... 'A passion caring for children'

Despite the hurdles faced in trying to keep the Annie Dawson Home for Children comfortable, Ivaline Nickie said that it was her pleasure to serve the children every day. It has been a childhood passion.

"There were times I would go home and the next person joining my family was somebody from my class. That's how it was in my home. They were not always family members. That was hardly the case, but they (my parents) would lavish love on them. My mother, in particular, taught me to love other people's children as my own. Even though I have never given birth, I have adopted children," she said.

"It's a lot of work because it's not just a roof over the head. There is school, a number of them have special needs and we know that special-needs schools aren't free. There are all these areas ... . Nevertheless, we do our best."