Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie Campbell concluded a three-day visit to the islands of Mayaguana and Inagua over the weekend with a stop at the Inagua All-Age School. The Minister joined school officials and students for a Special Assembly recognizing Third Grade teacher Mrs. Tara Burrows as Teacher of the Year for the MICAL District, before returning to New Providence in the afternoon. Minister Campbell also used the opportunity to celebrate International Day of Girls and Women in Science (IDGWS) with female students and teachers. IDGWS is a United Nations event that is celebrated annually around the globe.
Minister Campbell began his visit to the country’s two most southern islands in Mayaguana (Friday, February 8) where he addressed students at the Abraham’s Bay High School, before moving on to address students at the Pirate’s Well Primary School. Officials of the Ministry of Social Services joined residents of Mayaguana at the finale of a week-long Revival Service on Friday night at the Church of God of Prophecy in Abraham’s Bay before hosting a Community Meeting on Saturday morning (February 9). Minister Campbell and his team departed Mayaguana Saturday afternoon for Matthew Town, Inagua, where they hosted another Community Meeting, this time at the St. Philip’s Anglican Church Community Centre. The team also attended morning Mass at St. Philip’s where they were able to have a number of additional conversations regarding the ministry’s role, following the service.
Minister Campbell said the purpose of the visits was to personally explain how the various Departments and Divisions that help to form the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development “come together to support the whole man/woman” so that the message can get to all Bahamians everywhere. The Social Services Minister said the various on-island engagements also provided Social Services officials with an opportunity to address as many diverse groupings as possible – covering schools, church groupings, parents, guardians, business owners, non-governmental organizations and individual residents. The team also performed a number of assessments where necessary, while also addressing the issue of developing greater public/private partnerships.
Officials explained that while the provision of assistance is an important part of the services they provide, the Ministry and its various Departments and Divisions are responsible for so much more. The “coming together to support the whole man and woman” covers everything from child protection to gender equality; children and families services; rehabilitation and welfare programmes; rental, electricity, burial, food and appliances assistance programmes; community development; programmes for Senior Citizens; programmes for teen mothers; programmes to prevent violence against women and men, and ensuring equity for persons living with disabilities, among many others. The Ministry also facilitates programmes for at-risk youth; sponsors After-School Programmes and facilitates Anger Management Programmes through the Urban Renewal Commission.
The Ministry is further responsible for reporting to the United Nations and its Committees, and several other regional and international bodies/conventions pertaining to all of the aforementioned. Minister Campbell, who has been on the job for seven months, told the residents that it was “very important” to put “boots on the ground” and meet with them face-to-face, while also learning firsthand of any concerns they may have. Minister Campbell took the opportunity to explain, step-by-step, the roles each Department and Division plays. He also outlined the programmes that exist for the benefit of Bahamians and detailed how both the services and programmes can be accessed. “The Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development is one of those ministries that take responsibility for individuals who qualify for assistance from the womb to the tomb,” Minister Campbell said. “Its mission, assignment, and goal, is to ensure that Bahamians everywhere know of all of the services/programmes that are available to them, and how they should go about accessing those services/programmes.
“I wanted to be here with you; my team wanted to be here with you to hold these discussions and advise you of all of the possibilities, face-to-face, where you live, in order for you to have a better understanding of all that we do.” Minister Campbell outlined the “process” of accessing the various kinds of assistance available when needed, advising residents in both island-communities that the process was necessary to ensure that those persons most in need of the assistance, are able to benefit from that assistance. Minister Campbell was accompanied by Mrs. Lillian Quant-Forbes, Director of Social Services; Dr. Jacintha Higgs, Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs; Ms. Maria Kelley, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities; and Ms. Sheryl Knowles, Programmes and Special Projects Coordinator for the Urban Renewal Commission.