Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is pictured chatting with Cicely King (at left) and Trecia O’Neal of the Children’s Trust, while Sir Kyffin Simpson looks on. The Prime Minister officially opened the Violet Gittens Centre last Sturday at the Nightengale Complex, Black Rock, St.Michael.(A Miller/BGIS)

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has pledged government’s support to philanthropy and the protection of vulnerable groups, especially children.

He made this commitment last Saturday during the official opening of the $3 million state-of-the-art 26-bed Violet Gittens Centre at the Nightengale Complex, Black Rock, St. Michael.

Mr. Stuart commended the Barbados Children’s Trust, the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth and the Child Care Board, for bringing the project, which caters to special needs children, to fruition.

Emphasising that the state also had a role to play, the Prime Minister said successive governments had, with varying degrees of intensity, "applied their minds, efforts and policies in this direction".

"…On the issue of philanthropy, the present government has taken a decision and that decision was taken as far back as 2008, to make philanthropy a focus for special incentives. Therefore, the purpose of that initiative is to encourage philanthropy in Barbados," he added.

Noting that entities such as the Barbados Children’s Trust, the Sandy Lane Trust and the Maria Holder Trust, were doing excellent philanthropic work, Mr. Stuart promised that government would continue to create the environment to support their efforts.

"We [government] are committed to ensuring that we create an environment that you find congenial and that would allow you to extend the areas of your benefaction to benefit the young people of Barbados," the Prime Minister underlined.

Mr. Stuart also said that the Centre, which replaced the rundown Haynesville Children’s Home, would not have been possible without the humanitarian efforts of the Barbados Children’s Trust.

"Children represent a vulnerable category in our society and in all societies.?? Therefore, when people decide that they are going to set aside their time, energy and love to minister to the requirements of children, they are to be applauded.?? It goes to show that they have attained a very high level of humanity," he noted.

The Prime Minister also urged parents to treat children well adding that "every kind of abuse inflicted on children is remembered and travels with them like a passport into adulthood".

"It doesn’t help any society to have people walking around with these hidden injuries from their childhood and that is why, the onerous and solemn responsibility falls on the shoulders of us to treat children well.?? Even though they may not be able to shout back at us…or argue with us, that does not alter the fact that they are not storing that information or are being affected by the things we do or the things that we refuse to do," Mr. Stuart surmised.

During the proceedings, the audience, which included Minister of International Transport and International Business, George Hutson, and Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, and Member of Parliament for St. Michael West, James Paul, were treated to an entertainment package that included NIFCA Bronze medalist Chad Montplasir, who rendered You Raise Me Up and, Trecia O’Neal, who sang The Greatest Love of All.

Violet Gittens, who was born in 1912 and died in 1994, dedicated her life to caring for children and ensuring that their rights were not violated during the 1940’s.????


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