Ranfurly Home for Children
By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
ORPHANGES on New Providence are bracing for more children affected by Hurricane Dorian to be turned over to their facilities as they appealed for donations to help their operations.
Representatives from the Ranfurly Home and Children's Emergency Hostel said they need more volunteers and cash donations to offset the influx of children coming to their facilities from storm affected islands.
Cally Wilson, a Ranfurly Home volunteer, told The Tribune yesterday the home has taken in 21 children from Grand Bahama and two from Abaco.
She said: "We are right in the middle with negotiations with all of the emergency services. We keep getting told by NEMA and the Red Cross that there are more kids coming and to prepare. We've been doing that and we've also been acting as a drop off centre for all the children's homes that received evacuees such as the Children's Emergency Hostel and the Nazareth Centre, so things are age-appropriate because the children that we have here are aged seven to 17.
"As things for babies come in, we send things that are appropriate on to them and if they have all they need, it goes on to the shelters. We are actively working on a needs list which will go out publicly. The interruptions haven't stop for us to formulate that," she explained.
"Our big concern is that we don't know how many children are coming into us. (The Department of) Social Services and the emergency services haven't been able to yet get a grasp on how many sole surviving children and children separated from primary caregivers are in the shelters and still alone."
She added: "...The situation as you can imagine, a lot of children may have been left in the care of extended family, friends or even strangers who out of the goodness of their heart taking care of them but their resources will run out or they'll have to go back to lives and those kids would be entering into the system. We also have to be actively ready for them because kids alone in the shelters - I mean there is such a high risk for so many horrors."
Ms Wilson said money is "most pressing thing" needed at the home to pay for additional staff members.
"We have a lot of special needs children that arrived with the group and we now need to provide round the clock nursing staff, cooking staff, general caretakers but also qualified childcare professionals. It's not enough just to have people watching children they need to be parenting them," she said.
"Right now, we are interviewing people and we are relying heavily on volunteers because you can't rush to hire someone who is going to be dealing with children. They have to be properly vetted and so it's a process. It's going to take us a little while and we are relying on volunteers in the meantime."
Meanwhile, Lessie Smith, Children's Emergency Hostel administrative assistant, said the home took in 15 children from Grand Bahama.
She said: "We are over our limit which is 30 children and we now have 50. We need cleaning supplies, canned goods and sandwich items. We really need food now.
"We need volunteer workers and we need money to pay staff. We also need childminders and maids."