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Advocate for C.H.A.N.G.E Ja wants to eradicate father absenteeism

Published:Friday | June 7, 2019 | 12:12 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer

Asheki Spooner, executive director of Advocate for C.H.A.N.G.E Jamaica, a non-profit organisation, has embarked on a mission to tackle what she describes as absentee fathers.

Advocate for C.H.A.N.G.E Jamaica was born out of a class assignment.

“We coined the name of the organisation in 2016 after we were asked to create an advocacy proposal for an assignment at Northern Caribbean University,” Spooner stated. “At that point, I indicated to the lecturer that my assignment would focus on father absenteeism, and other members of the class indicated that they, too, would like to be a part of that project.”

The organisation was created out of personal experiences and hardships faced by Spooner.

“It was always my intention to work with children, creating safe spaces for them and just nurturing them. However, I was not sure how,” Spooner stated. “At the time the assignment was given, I was facing issues with my father that affected me psychologically, emotionally, and academically.”

Spooner said she started engaging in ‘risky’ activities and behaviours. “I was withdrawn, among other things,” she recalled. “At the time, when Dr Charlene Sharpe and Ms Noreen Daley became my mentors, I started to attend counselling sessions periodically, and I started to understand that this issue was bigger than I was.”

Spooner admitted that she could not help herself in this mental space and that she would have never wished this experience on her worst enemy.

“Starting a non-profit, with this motivation and the team cheering us along, was a no-brainer,” she said.

effects of father absenteeism

Spooner and her team at Advocate for C.H.A.N.G.E have recognised some effects of father absenteeism.

“We have seen some effects, which include males being more prone to delinquent behaviours and dropping out of school and possible incarceration later in life,” she said. “Females are more likely to experience teenage pregnancy, be promiscuous, engage in activities that will expose them to harm from the opposite sex, like domestic abuse.”

She said females also tend to feel inferior and suffer from a lack of self-esteem as they believe that they are undeserving of love. In an attempt to fix these issues, the organisation plans to create safe spaces for children and parents to express themselves. They also plan on implementing programmes to offer individual attention that will result in some relief for those impacted.

Funding for the organisation mostly comes from the pockets of the executive members.

“To fund our entity and our organisation, we forge partnerships with for-profit entities and solicit sponsorship for our projects/activities,” Spooner explained. “We have realised the challenges of funding non-profits, and as such, we have taken a an unconventional approach to raise funds through events.”

Their first fundraising event will be the Wi Brunchin’ (#BrunchFiCharity) at Murray’s Fish and Jerk Hut in Clarendon Park on July 14.

“We also apply for grant funding, and we are currently a grantee of the USAID-funded Local Partner Development: Stepping Stone to Success project,” Spooner further explained.

To make donations, send an email to Advocate for C.H.A.N.G.E Jamaica at info@afcjamaica.com.