The International Game Technology, through its After School Advantage Programme, recently donated eight desktop computers and a printer to Mary’s Child, a Mustard Seed Communities’-run home for abandoned teen mothers.
The After School Advantage programme provides vulnerable children and young people with access to technology by donating computers and related equipment and education software.
Ann-Dawn Young-Sang, Regional vice-president of IGT Caribbean, while commending the founder of Mustard Seed, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon, and his team, said that the presentation of the computers was a continuation of a long-term partnership. Last year September, IGT donated a computer centre to Jerusalem Children’s Home, also run by Mustard Seed Communities.
Mary’s Child was designed in 1992 as a programme to provide a secure and spiritual environment for abandoned pregnant teenagers. Today it is one of 10 homes operated by Mustard Seed and currently houses 17 teenage mothers. An additional seven are expected in coming weeks.
“What we have is a programme that gives support to pregnant teenagers,” said Administrator Nadia Williams.
“Most of them come to us through the court system, because they are in need of care and protection. (As a result of the fact that) they are unable to go to school, because they are pregnant, we provide academic continuation and skills training while they are here. We also work with the Child Development Agency (CDA) in getting them reinstated with a family member who can assist [because] sometimes the abuse took place at home and they cannot go back to that facility. So, if there is a grandmother or aunt we will work with the CDA to get them reintegrated.
“The beauty about it is that they will go back with a skill to offset some of the cost that comes with raising a child while they further their education,” Williams said.
Reacting to the donation, one of the teens who has been living at the institution for approximately eight months now said she felt heartened.
“I feel great today to know that I am at a home and that we are getting support from outside,” she said.
Another ward concurred: “I am grateful for the contribution.”
This story was first published in the Jamaica Observer on Sunday, March 27