By John Myers Jr., Staff Reporter
THE ROTARY Club of St. Andrew this week announced plans to construct a US$250,000 hostel to accommodate street boys in the Corporate Area as the main component of its centennial project.
Earl Samuels, newly appointed president, in his installation address to members and guests of the club, said construction of the facility, which will be built on lands donated by the Ministry of Water and Housing at 3 Goodwin Park Road in St. Andrew, should commence in October.
It should be ready for occupancy in April, 2005. The building will consist of eight bedrooms with a central bathroom area outfitted with shower, wash basins and toilet facilities to provide accommodation for approximately 32 boys.
The Rotary Club president, who is also the managing director of the National Housing Trust (NHT), highlighted the problem faced by street children, whom he pointed out, were often victims of physical and emotional abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect, substance abuse and other forms of human rights violations.
He said the hostel will provide temporary shelter for boys aged 10 to 18 years old who are registered under the Possibility Programme. The Possibility Programme is a national programme aimed at addressing the needs of street children nationwide. In addition to being provided with shelter, the facility will offer training programmes as well as training in social values and guidance in delinquency prevention.
"We must make a difference if we are to live in this country...it cannot be the responsibility of the Government alone," he impressed upon his colleagues. He said the club will also be establishing a mentorship programme for the boys and challenged the club's members to become involved and forge relationships with the boys to assist with their rehabilitation.
And in support of his colleague, Kingsley Thomas, chairman of the National housing Trust (NHT), who was the guest speaker at the function, announced that he will be undertaking to raise $3 million in six months to assist with the cost of constructing the shelter for boys.
Mr. Samuels replaced outgoing president Donovan Walker under whose leadership it was announced that the club spent over $12 million on charities in 2003/2004, including the donation of well-needed respirator machines to the Bustamante Hospital for Children at a cost of $5.5 million. Three persons were presented with Rotaries most prestigious award, the Paul Harris Award. This year's awardees were Kingsley Thomas, chairman of the NHT, Noel L. Bennett and Barbara Walker.