By Byron McDaniel, Freelance Writer
Members of staff of the Mount Olivet Boys Home. - Contributed
THE MOUNT Olivet Boys Home in Manchester is managing an effective programme for the young boys under its care.
The Home was established by the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman in April 1967. Its secluded cluster of white painted buildings rests on the crest of a hill, about one mile from the Walderston Village Square, and reminds one of a monastery.
On entering the compound, a huge "cut stone" edifice looms in the background. This is the United Church, standing like a silent sentinel over the sprawling acreage of land.
Beyond is a panoramic view of miles of lush foliage, houses and roads with capillary tracks. The elevation is three thousand feet and the air is clean and crisp. A group of boys at devotion chant prayers. Their seemingly well-scrubbed skins and low cut hair, along with the tranquillity of the atmosphere is reminiscent of monks at prayer. The similarity to the religious order ends there.
The 45 wards at the home are all from dysfunctional social backgrounds and have all been adjudged by the court to be juveniles in need of care and protection. The home's programme seems to be effective as the staff reports that they are normal in behaviour. Supt. Winston Gilman says the expected minor squirmishes are dealt with by counselling; corporal punishment is never used.
A staff of eleven includes the Superintendent, one matron, two cooks, two laundresses, three house masters and two house mothers. The staff ensures that the boys are fed, counselled, supervised on the farms, attend various schools and taught several skills. Manager of the home, the Rev. Gosel Bacchas takes care of their spiritual well-being.
The boys range in age from an 18-year-old high school graduate to a cheeky and inquisitive three-year-old, who sometimes invade the Superintendent's office, and while occupying his knee, assertively demands to answer the telephone. Whenever this privilege is granted he proudly identifies himself by name.
Housemaster Patrick Wellington, when asked about his job said, "I have gained a lot of experience working here with the boys. This has improved my parental skills. I have been here since November 1988 and the relationship with staff and wards is excellent."