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The St. James Parish Council, is to undertake the refurbishing and expansion of the Refuge of Hope Night Shelter in Montego Bay.
The project, which is being undertaken in collaboration with the Board of Trustees of the Montego Bay Homeless Programme, was officially launched on Wednesday (August 13). Approximately $7 million has already been pledged by various Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) locally and internationally, to carry out the work, expected to benefit some 70 homeless persons, currently living on the streets of the resort city.
The Refuge of Hope Night Shelter, located in Albion, already houses upwards of 30 street persons, who receive various forms of assistance. Addressing the launching ceremony, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth, and Sports, Senator Warren Newby, said the expansion of the shelter was a great achievement, which gave credence to the idiom ‘out of bad comes good’.
“This good is emanating from a scandal that stimulated our collective social conscience. It is one that we will not easily forget, but it has borne fruit in institutions such as the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI), and cemented itself in facilities, such as the one we are here to unveil. It has been at the forefront of our nation’s business since that time.”
“The civility and maturity of a people is measured in how we treat the vulnerable and less fortunate of our society. By that very logic, it is indicative of the maturity of the people and citizens of St. James,” Senator Newby stated.
Alluding to surveys that predict future changes in population levels and the attendant challenges, the Parliamentary Secretary advised that significant attention and focus must be placed on preparing the infrastructure and citizens, for the transformation that would be necessary to accommodate the changes in population.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Charles Sinclair, described the expansion of the shelter as a move in the right direction, and congratulated the Inspector of Poor, Jeremiah Dehaney and other interests, who have been assisting with the project.
“As the number of homeless persons increases, the need for us to effectively provide lodging, among other things, has become a priority. I congratulate all who have played significant roles in the project. It is your foresight and dedication to uplifting the poor that truly makes the difference. It is of utmost importance, that we continue to support this project, for we must do our part to improve the lives of every Jamaican,” Mr. Sinclair noted.
Two street persons, Luke McKenzie and Stephen James, who have been successfully rehabilitated and retrained for reintegration into the society, were commended on the transformation and progress made.