Kingston, 1 October 2021 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has said that construction work at Women’s Centre outreach centres in the parishes of St Elizabeth and Manchester is now complete.
Minister Grange who toured the facilities on Thursday (yesterday) said she was satisfied with the work.
The Minister was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary, Denzil Thorpe; and the Chair of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Board, Debbie Salmon.
The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation is operated by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
The Ministry had been leading the construction of a new facility in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth which will operate as a training and day care centre to enable adolescent mothers to continue their education until they are able to rejoin the formal school system.
The centre in Santa Cruz, which was constructed at a cost of J$36 million, joins the centre in Junction as the Women’s Centre facilities in the parish of St Elizabeth.
“This [Santa Cruz] facility is more central and that is why it was so important for us to build this out and to make it available to the parish. The facility in Junction, we need to do some repairs there, but what we will do once we’ve done all the repairs is to have that facility operate just as a nursery.”
Minister Grange said the new Santa Cruz centre will enable the Women’s Centre to improve its service to adolescent mothers in the parish.
“Young girls who found themselves pregnant — some have been abused, some were just experimenting — and so they’re not able to be in traditional school.
The Women’s Centre provides the support that they will need to carry them through their pregnancy. They get counselling, classes are conducted and they’re taken through that period where they have their babies.”
Minister Grange was joined on the tour in Santa Cruz by the Member of Parliament for Northeast St Elizabeth, Delroy Slowley, who pledged his support to the operation of the centre.
“I will have to be making sure that whatever I can bring to the table to assist [because] some of the amenities are not there. We need a washing machine, we need desks and chairs for the students and for the teachers and we will have to see how, from our CDF, we can bring some assistance,” said Mr Slowley.
In Manchester, Minister Grange opened the new nursery at the Mandeville Centre.
The Minister said: “Adolescent mothers who attend the centre would take their babies here and while they are attending classes, the babies would be attended to in the nursery, which is a standalone facility so that when they’re in class they won’t hear the babies crying and so they’ll be able to concentrate on their lessons.”
Minister Grange was joined on the tour by the Member of Parliament for Central Manchester, Rhoda Moy Crawford; as well as Dasmine Kennedy, who donated a grant — awarded by the Rockefeller Foundation — towards the construction.
Minister Grange praised the partnership for the construction of the nursery and said she looked forward to working with other stakeholders to get the facility up and running.
Miss Crawford pledged her support going forward. “I’m very happy to be on the tour today because what I’ve been able to see is, first hand, the needs. There’s a need for tablets for the girls, there’s need for building material, among other things; and I’m going to see what sort of assistance I can give through my office while at the same time appeal to the members of the business community to give us whatever support they can.”
The MP also praised Minister Grange for her work to improve the Programme for Adolescent Mothers in Manchester.
“I’m very heartened by the development here today. Access to education and training is one of my priority issues, so I want to express a big thank you to the Honourable Minister Grange for her seriousness and this investment,” said Miss Crawford.
The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation operates 18 facilities for adolescent mothers across the island.