One boy who sat 10 subjects was successful with six grade one and four grade two passes, while another attained seven grade one and three grade two passes. Another student placed first in his class, with term and examination grades averaging A and B passes. According to director Lolita Phillips, the objective of the programme is to assist in the reintegration of street children and at-risk youth with their families and/or schools where possible, in order to improve their life chances. Phillips is happy that the boys enrolled in the project are doing well, which she says speaks volumes to the programme's rehabilitative efforts that include education and skills training.
"We are providing a service and we want to make sure that the boys that are here are doing well. They do not have to be very academic but we ensure that they are provided for, ensuring that their spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being are taken care of," said Phillips.
There are four intervention components designed to address the challenges of the target group. These are a care centre, skills employment and training centre, annual re-socialization camps and a youth hostel. The care centre acts as the intake facility. It is where youths are assessed for placement. If the individual is six to 15 years old and is assessed as unable to read, the staff will decide if there is a need to get in touch with the family and find out why he has dropped out of school, and if there is a possibility of reintegration into the regular school system.
Youth who would not be able to function effectively in the regular school system would be encouraged to stay at the facility, because there is one-to-one remedial work that can be done. However, if the youth is over the age of 15 and requires remedial work, he is referred to the Skills Training and Employment Centre, where he will get remedial classes and gain a hands-on skill. The combination of literacy and skills training is more suited to these individuals. For the boys who have nowhere to live, they are assessed and, if they satisfy the requirements, they are housed in the hostel where they get to develop a number of skills. The selection process is also quite tedious and includes obtaining relevant information pertaining to the child/children that help the administrators in the decision-making process to place them at the various intervention centres.
"We are very specific about the intake process. It is important that we conduct a thorough evaluation of the applicants. We cannot have a facility and not interview the persons that are coming in. "It is not discriminatory but we have to have a fair idea of who we are taking into the facilities," said Phillips.
In addition, once per year the boys are taken on what the director calls a resocialisation camp, which is done jointly with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), a partner in the programme for a number of years.
Sadly there were some talks to expand this initiative to MSM/trans populations but the dubious closure of the only Safe house for said groups specifically to address homelessness outside of the already closed AIDS hospices was not to go any further. It is good to see that project is still in operation. Also see from the former Executive Director named in the podcast more background on the project: HERE also see the beginning of the issues from the closure of the project: The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes and The Ultimatum on December 30, 2009
I conducted a site visit and took some shots to a previous hide away for the guys which was exposed and burnt out by thugs mainly due to the inability of the men using the space to be circumspect:
Video from Loop: VIDEO: Homeless gay men, rejected by their families, beg for place to live
With images such as that one above of one of our homeless MSM and the obvious emaciated state more evidence of the lack of interest in addressing homelessness and HIV/AIDS. I am reminded of when friends, colleagues and party patrons at my parties I DJ or promote used to drop like flies in the early nineties; when one would wonder who will be off the scene this month or week or if someone is missing the guess would be they are in the hospital; then when one actually finds them they are mere skin and bones. Sigh
We are told repeatedly of promises to deal with it or flimsy excuses that a space cannot be found etc, see:
Homeless Awareness Month: Flashback to New Kingston's Displaced MSM 2013
MSM/Trans homeless - From gully to graveyard Oct 2015
newer photo taken November 21, 2015
finally see this one: