Members of the Board of Directors, Administrators, staff, volunteers, stakeholders and residents of The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel, Sunday commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hostel.
The celebration took place on the same day as the global celebration of World Children’s Day. World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on November 20 each year as a means of promoting international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
They were joined by Minister of State for Urban Development, the Hon. Lisa T. Rahming, who told her audience that the Hostel has become an integral part of the community “offering hope, shelter and above all, love, in a world of abandonment and neglect to some of the most vulnerable members of our society at a time they needed it.”
Mrs. Rahming was among officials from the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, the Childcare Facilities Division, Department of Social Services, Members of the Hostel’s Board of Directors, Administrators and staff of the hostel, volunteers, supporters and stakeholders, who gathered at the Home located off McKinney Drive.
State Minister Rahming said the Hostel, which was established in 1962 by the Bahamas Christian Council with the purpose to provide emergency and temporary shelter for abandoned, neglected and abused children aged six weeks to eleven years, provides a critical and necessary service to the community. The initial site for the Hostel was in Oakes Field.
“Six decades ago, a few men and women answered a very important call to serve. Their willingness to make a difference in the lives of pregnant mothers and their other children was impactful. I am certain they had no idea of the impact their simple gesture of support would have on the lives of so many children over the past 60 years, (but) the Hostel has developed into a staple institution in our Bahamian community.
“In following Jesus Christ’s admonition, the founders said: ‘Suffer the children to come unto us!’ It was this selfless act that created this unique institution in our society today, offering hope, shelter and above all love, in a world of abandonment and neglect to some of the most vulnerable members of society – our children. The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel is a ‘Home away from Home’ for children who themselves, are without a home,” Ms. Rahming added.
The Hostel was closed due to financial difficulties in 1968. However, under the new leadership of the Kiwanis Club of Nassau, it reopened in January 1969 on its present site on McKinney Drive. The Department of Social Services later became a partner and now provides an annual grant and employs 13 of the 25 staff members.
The Hostel provides a home to children from birth to 11 years of age. Residents who have not been returned to their relatives, fostered, or adopted by age 12, are transferred to Homes for older children where they will reside until age 18.
The average length of residency at the Hostel is one year. The children attend worship services each Sunday and all school-aged children attend public schools. Pre-schoolers receive scholarships from community pre-schools.
“The Hostel’s Mission Statement: ‘To provide adequate care and shelter in a loving, productive environment for children from birth to 11 years old,’ is not without challenge given today’s society. Indeed, The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel has seen the best of times and it has seen the worst of times over the past 60 years, but God has continued to provide for the institution. As you embark upon another 60 years of serving the Bahamian community, remember the highs more than you reflect on the lows.
“As a Minister with responsibility for the protection of children in the country, I encourage the Board, Management and Staff of the Hostel to keep pressing on because you are making a major difference in the lives of so many children. On behalf of my colleague Minister (Minister Obadiah Wilchcombe, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development) we congratulate all past and present Board Members, managers, volunteers and staff for your selflessness in caring for our children over the past 60 years. We extend best wishes for a fruitful future operation and pledge our continued support.”
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