Sweat streaks down the dirtied brown faces of little children and nests in the crevices of their little necks, creating natural necklaces.
There is no shade.
Lurking in the yard is sharp bluff rock once covered with sand to protect little hands and knees.
It’s mid-day and time for recess, but there is no playground equipment; just dirt, dust and heat.
Sounds like an image from some faraway third world forgotten community?
It’s a daily occurrence at the Cayman Brac Day Care Centre following the November passage of Hurricane Paloma.
Now the day care centre is reaching out to the community for help.
Ms Neila Jones, day care supervisor, is planning a pyjama party at 7.30pm Monday, 16 March, at the centre and a 19 March visit from the Cayman Islands Fire Service truck at 10am.
Ms Jones hopes to use both events to expose the struggles the day care has experienced since the storm.
So far the Rotary Club of Cayman Brac, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Sister Islands Beautification Committee have lent their support, but it’s not enough.
The day care is reaching out now to corporate sponsors, especially those on Grand Cayman.
The Cayman Brac Day Care Centre entered its new purpose built building in 2006. The centre was originally started because of the need in the community for civil servants to have a place for their children to go, while they work.
There are 44 children actively attending the centre full and part time.
What started as a result of civil servant need is now being used by every sector of the community, including tourists.
This facility is heavily funded by the government with minimal community contribution.
Parents pay only $10 per day for their child. At the Centre, the children benefit from the services of a speech and language pathologist, a psychologist and occasional visits from an occupational therapist.
Each child is provided with two warm meals every day. The children are prepared for formal schooling, following the CI Preschool Curriculum Guide. In June of each year, the centre has its annual graduation exercise, following which a number of them move on to the primary schools in September.
In an effort to provide affordable childcare for the community, government has decided to keep the fees to a minimum. As a result, the PTAs over the years have played an integral part in providing other necessities. They have done fundraisers in the past, enabling them to provide playground equipment, art and craft supplies, books, graduation gowns, providing sand for the yard etc.
The centre is also used as a hurricane shelter and was employed during the passing of both Gustav and Paloma. The centre remained open as a shelter to the community, Red Cross volunteers and relief workers. Services to the community resumed on 25 November.
During Paloma the fence was broken, trees uprooted, plants lost and playthings blown into the bushes way beyond the playground. Rain also washed away the sand previously place there to cover the rocks in the playground. The government has fixed the fence, but the playthings are damaged beyond repair and the sharp bluff rocks are now exposed making the play surface dangerous to little hands and knees.
‘Giving the current economic climate and the widespread need for funds for recovery we don’t anticipate a financial contribution from government to replace these much needed items,’ said Ms Jones.
Following is a list of some of the items lost as a result of Paloma:
Little Tikes Activity Gym (4)
Little Tikes Log Cabin (2)
Little Tikes Restaurant
Little Tikes Sand Box (3)
Little Tikes Cars (5)
Little Tikes Picnic Tables (2)
Little Tikes Slides (3)
All Trees and Potted Plants in the Childrens’ Garden
All pots in Childrens’ Garden
Planting Soil for pots
Sand fill and mulch on the playground
All landscaping has been damaged or destroyed
‘It would also be great if we can acquire a tent, or Shade Sails as the storm damaged the trees that provided the children with some shade. Now there’s none. Corporate attention to our requests has also been non-existent and our fear is it will take years to replace all the items lost,’ Ms Jones said.