Simply for the Smiles: A Visit to Maxfield Park Children’s Home

By Shaquielle Dias

Let’s face it, being wealthy does make life significantly easier. As a result of this reality, a dollar sign is attached to ALMOST everything; so many can attest that “time is money” and must be valued.

blog 1For a residence of over one hundred children, the air was surprisingly still. When the thirty-plus member team from Shashamane Sunrise, led by Dr. Rene Williamson, and Block B (The Great Republic of Siberia), Irvine Hall of UWI, Mona arrived at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home (MPCH) it was astonishingly quiet; they were quietly awaiting what they expected to be an amazing day.  The morning of March 25, 2017 was not a disappointment; the team engaged the children in a morning packed with activities. The morning was eventually filled with laughter and eyes filled with enlightenment, it was a morning of learning and frivolity. With simultaneous sessions running, the children were engaged in dance, modelling with some of Shashamane’s professional top models, and a series of motivational talks with the older children at the Home.

For some volunteers, the sessions were more than an altruistic respite from their regular weekend, it was an experience worth travelling miles for. Ayanna Gregory, human rights activist and entertainer, literally travelled thousands of miles from Washington DC to inspire the residents of MPCH through her motivational workshops. As daughter of Dick Gregory, legendary human rights activist and comedian, inspiring scores is in her blood.

It was also a day filled with sports: basketball, lawn tennis and football. The men from Irvine Hall and Shashamane were put to the test on the football field; “Homes FC” was untouchable – the score cannot even be mentioned.

blog 2The laughs were simply priceless – everyone was reminded of the joy of youth. There are few things even the wealthiest can’t afford, the ingenuous happiness of this experience was one. Many of the volunteers spent the morning reading to toddlers, playing with them and just talking. Each child had a dream, something they aspired to be or do, even the runts of the group had goals. If they could speak, they had a story to tell and volunteers were there to listen and encourage them to dream beyond the walls they saw each day.

The day was wrapped up with a late lunch provided by Shashamane and presentation of a few parting gifts, received by Mr. Bowen, Manager of MPCH. Courtesy of A1 Solutions and Logistics, through their CEO Anthony Brown, MPCH now has two desktop computers to aid in their e-learning pursuits. Akim Fraser, Representative for Block B, also handed over a desktop printer, printing stationery and toner to complement Shashamane’s efforts. Shashamane also saluted, with a plaque, Mrs Emprezz Golding, Chairperson of the Board of MPCH, for her stellar work in volunteerism and youth development.

blog 3Many would have lost a few dollar signs, but they gained something priceless, more precious than anything missed money could purchase. The joy in the laughter of a child is truly priceless, to have experienced it, and contributed to it in such abundance made the few hours shared invaluable for all in participation.

The young men of Block B, Irvine Hall did not end their engagement with Maxfield Park Children’s Home that Saturday. Academic year 2017/18 will see the beginning of a mentorship programme aimed at aiding young men at MPCH in preparation for University as well as career planning and reinforcement of positive values.

 

Shaquielle Dias is a Shashamane Sunrise Ambassador and Resident of Block B, Irvine Hall, UWI

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