At Ankerville, Corentyne…
President Ramotar declares open multi-million-dollar hospice for abused children
PRESIDENT Donald Ramotar yesterday commissioned the multi-million-dollar Bal Nivas centre for children who have been victims of abuse in Ankerville, Corentyne, Berbice.
Addressing the hundreds who attended the event, he stressed that the social challenges Guyana faces in relation to domestic violence and child abuse demand a multi-faceted approach.
The President referred to Government’s efforts to create an atmosphere where domestic violence and child abuse are not tolerated, but are spoken against. In this regard, efforts include passage of new legislation and investment in the social sector.
The President said that when domestic violence and child abuse are eliminated, Guyana would have moved a far way and would have advanced in the right direction to ensure the protection of vulnerable groups.
He also congratulated the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha (GHDS) and its supporters for being able to turn the vision of the Bal Nivas Centre into a reality, and noted that the centre would benefit all Guyanese.
RESPONDING TO A NEED
President of the GHDS, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, speaking at the commissioning ceremony yesterday, pointed out that the Bal Nivas centre responds to a need that evidences a real problem. “It is a sad day when we need this type of facility, but the reality is not one we are blind to,” she said, making clear the importance for vulnerable groups to have safety and security.
According to her, the facility is the result of a vision in 2009, and the support of its many stakeholders is greatly appreciated. She proffered the Sabha’s appreciation to Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam, whose sold-out concerts assisted the Sabha in raising funds for the centre’s construction. Sonu Nigam was present at the opening ceremony.
Dr Persaud, who stressed that the GHDS is committed to serving the people of Guyana, called on Berbicians to take ownership of the facility in order to ensure that it can continue to serve those in need for many years to come.
The newly-opened hospice, which will house 60 persons at a time, will target children, particularly those with single parents in the surrounding communities.
In January 2012, the GHDS signed the building contract with Kascon Engineering Service of Berbice, and the Government of Guyana donated the land for its construction.
In 2012 also, President Donald Ramotar and leading Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam unveiled the design of the building; and construction of Bal Nivas began in February last year, following numerous fund-raising activities and receipt of donations from individuals, families, businesses and the Sabha’s New York Chapter.
The facility will spearhead many programmes in order to educate communities throughout the country about domestic violence and parenting. Rehabilitation and counselling programmes will also be held to ensure that victims are ready to be placed in a safe environment.
One wing of the building was designated for the counselling centre and a skills-training facility. These are mainly to benefit women in the community who may be suffering at the hands of their partners. The intention is to re-integrate these individuals into the community and proper families after a period of time at the shelter.
The administration of the shelter will be handled by the Sabha, in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Services and the Child Protection Agency.
Also present at the commissioning of this facility were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; General Secretary of the ruling party, Mr Clement Rohee; Government ministers, Members of Parliament (MPs), and Executives of the GHDS.
(By Vanessa Narine)