Ebenezer - a home for the homeless
Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
The Ebenezer Home in Grey Ground, Manchester, has been providing for the mentally challenged street people in Mandeville and its environs for more than a decade.
Situated on the grounds of the Manchester Infirmary in Grey Ground, the Ebenezer Home is the product of a project of the Community of Concerned Citizens in Mandeville, which saw the need to provide a home for the mentally challenged street people. This was prompted by the late Mavis Francis, a psychiatric nurse, and Joyce Powell, a social worker.
The Manchester Parish Council, after being appro-ached by the group, gave permission to use an old building at the Manchester Infirmary. With help from the charitable organisation Food For The Poor, the Jamaica Development Fund, the Mandeville Ministerial Fraternity, and the Manchester Returning Residents group, the home was set up and officially opened by then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in November 2000.
The Ebenezer Home is a non-governmental organisation which provides psychotherapy and medication to its clients with the assistance of the Southern Regional Health Authority.
At present, the home houses 16 males as the institution does not have the facilities to house females.
"They are examined by the psychiatric doctors, given prescriptions with their medicines, and if they have nowhere to go, they stay here," said the Reverend Clarister Johnson, chairman of the management committee of the home.
"This is not a prison, so some of them come, and after a while if they decide that they want to go, we can't stop them," said Johnson. "The objective is to rehabilitate them and to reintegrate them with their family and their community."
Johnson disclosed that there was a problem, in most cases, with reintegrating inmates with their families.
"There is the situation where most relatives don't want them back," she explained. "We are trying to get a social worker whose duty would be to work with the family to take them for a day to see how they fit in - for a weekend.
"This (should) gradually integrate them because at the moment, so far, it's only one person who has returned to the family, and after a while he came back. Most are here from the inception of the home."
The institution, with limited resources, tries its best to provide top-quality care for its clients; however, as disclosed by Johnson, there are many challenges.
"Thank the Lord the Southern Regional Health Authority pays for the staff that works during the day time," Johnson disclosed. "The management committee pays for staff during the night, and we only have two staff members at any time."
She added that in recent times, the Manchester Parish Council came on-board and gave the home a monthly subvention, which helps with procuring food for the residents.
Johnson identified areas needing assistance as follows:
- Painting and reparing of windows;
- Addition of a recreational centre;
- Rehabilitation of layer pen and a chicken farm;
- Cultivation of existing crops including yam, potatoes, and carrots.
"We also need a skills-training centre here where the men can learn a skill and go out and make some money for themselves," Johnson disclosed. "Some of them are quite capable of taking part in different skills."
Johnson would also like to expand on the building so that they could also accommodate females.