Sat | Sep 25, 2021

Letter of the Day | Maxfield Park Children’s Home helping to build Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | July 21, 2021 | 12:09 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I was extremely happy to learn that the Government is to establish a task force which will oversee the rehabilitation of the Maxfield Park Children’s Home, with a view to transforming the facility into a Centre of Excellence for Childcare. This is long overdue.

I am a proud product of this institution, and so are many others. That institution for us is the place we know as our home. As children, we were taught proper decorum. We knew no other language but the ‘Queen’s Language’. Speaking Patois was not allowed – in fact, we never knew what Patois was. Our upbringing taught us certain graces that today continue to envelop us into who we are.

One of the most satisfying contributions for me was ensuring that every child had a proper birthdate and name. I noticed that there was no proper record of name, birthdate entered in the Admission Book for over 120 children and decided to work with the Family Court and Judge Mason to fix that issue. The problem was that if a police brought in a baby and the surname of the police was Corporal Brown, the child would be named ‘Baby Brown’.

Some years ago a noted Jamaican singer, who was a child at the home, found out he was not registered at the Registrar General’s Department. He needed a passport to travel. He told the officers that the only person who could identify him was ‘Sarah Newland’. He got through and is still performing today overseas.

I left the home to work at the Kingston YMCA and ensured that at least 40 children from the home were given the opportunity to attend the Summer Camp and Learn to Swim Programmes every two weeks. This was sponsored by Port Authority of Jamaica through Mrs Jennifer McDonald. I even had two young ladies from another home assigned to attend the Leadership Training Programme and who were placed at the YMCA as counsellors.

There are many of us, who were wards of the state, who continue to contribute in helping to build this nation. I have no regrets for being a ward of the state and the opportunities it afforded me to be the person I am today by instilling certain values which have never left me even to this day, and before being transferred to the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre at age five. Each holiday I would return to the Maxfield Park Children’s Home, as that was my home.

SARAH NEWLAND-MARTIN, OD, JP