P.A.C.E. Foundation celebrated the burning of its mortgage and renaming of the establishment to The Andrea E. Archer Institute — after its founder and the first Bahamian Chief School Welfare Officer, Friday, April 29.
In remarks, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin said to Mrs. Archer: “I am so proud to know you; proud of you as a Bahamian woman. I am in awe of your courage. You had to fight against the status quo. You went there to bat for girls who were not headliners in our country. You told all of us that their lives mattered and they had a future that was waiting for them. That is so heroic on so many levels because you had to jump a lot of hurdles to get to that place with those girls.
“On behalf of the Ministry of Education, the P.A.C.E. Program, the Government, I want to salute you, God-centered woman I thank you because you have sent signals to us about how we should view ourselves as a human because we’re all imperfect. We’ve all made mistakes. God is a God of second chances and allows us to redeem ourselves.
“It took this village of women to stand out and fight for these girls who come from communities by and large that are struggling in so many areas and saw that it was important to light a path for these girls”
Minister Hanna-Martin acknowledged the Zonta Club, P.A.C.E. Foundation and its partners for their contributions. Also present was Mrs. Ann Marie Davis, wife of the Prime Minister, well-wishers, government representatives, family, and members of the board of P.A.C.E. Foundation witnessing the ceremony in the courtyard of the newly renovated Institute, East Street. The event was marked by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and signage, and cutting of a commemorative cake. A registered nurse, medical social counsellor, college lecturer and pioneer in school social work, Mrs. Andrea E. Archer began working in the Public Health Department in 1969 and it was there she started a program for teen mothers.
Subsequently, she was transferred to the Ministry of Education to pursue a career in school social work. She introduced institutions to school social work and visited schools and homes, counselled at-risk students and their families. Under her leadership the function of the School Welfare Committee expanded to include fund raising efforts for at-risk families’ needing clothing, payment of rent, provision of food parcels and scholarships.
Moreover, she actualized the Student Mother Clinic to assist pregnant students who were suspended/expelled from school. The name was later changed to Student Mother Continued Education Program, and then P.A.C.E. Sonia Brown, President, P.A.C.E. Foundation, described Mrs. Archer as a woman equipped and prepared to challenge the status quo.
“What makes Andrea stand out is her compassion, integrity and ability to see light in people in the midst of their struggles and the messiness of their lives. Not only does she pray, she acts on her beliefs causing change to happen not because it is easy but because it is necessary. At this less than ideal time, a quiet revolution was brewing led by the woman bold enough to ask the question who benefits
when young mothers are denied an education?
“By the mid-1980s she was able to leverage the quiet revolutionaries in the Zonta Club of Nassau. It took some convincing but they brought the full force of their influence to bear on the P.A.C.E. program, in the process providing much-needed role models, access to supremely credentialed speakers, food and clothing assistance, scholarships and ultimately forming the P.A.C.E. Foundation to further expand the circle of influence,” she said.
Mrs. Archer remarked that the journey has not been easy. It took courage, stamina and fortitude to act despite negative criticism and vilification to give pregnant students a second chance,” she said.
“We are enjoying the sweetness of the fruit as we admire this beautiful, renovated edifice. This could not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the board of the P.A.C.E. Foundation, its many social partners and family members.
“Supporters as well as detractors have witnessed first-hand our genuine love and determination to assist student mothers in regaining entrance into school after the birth of their babies. The success of the girls professionally bore witness of their capabilities once given a second chance to be respected, in addition to being productive citizens who are capable of supporting their offspring,” said the
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