Community reaches out to troubled teens

There has been a surge of offers to
donate professional services, equipment and money to the Frances Bodden Home
for Girls in recent weeks, following the story of a teenage girl’s struggle to
deal with incest, rape and neglect.

Several people have come forward to
pay for the teenager’s sessions with a psychotherapist who specialises in
sexual abuse cases. So far, private donors have reached out to pay for 10
therapy sessions to help this teenage girl.

After the article was published in
the Observer on Sunday in early July, there was an influx of calls, emails and
people dropping by the office asking ‘What can we to do to help,’ says CAYS Foundation
CEO Angela Sealey.

“People in the community were
touched by this young lady’s story and her courage to speak out,” says Sealey.
“Some individuals said that they couldn’t give a lot, but they were in a
position to pay for one or two sessions. And these donations have added up.”

In many ways, the 15-year-old girl
is like most teenagers. Her favourite Michael Jackson’s album is Thriller. She
loves acting, playing marbles, dressing up and her pet fighting fish. She has
lots of girl friends and loves to talk just like all teenage girls.

But because of years of sexual
abuse and neglect, this girl also had difficulty concentrating in school,
suffers from flashbacks, has a hair trigger temper and was hospitalised numerous
times for cutting herself.

At the time the story was
published, the foundation was able to pay for five therapy sessions and she was
making progress. However, several more sessions were needed to help her to come
to terms with the sexual abuse and continue the healing process.

But at $100 per session and deep
government cuts, the foundation did not have any more money to squeeze from its
shrinking budget. But with the increase in public awareness about the girls and
boys homes, Sealey thinks more of the community will become involved with the

While the foundation gets the bulk
of its money to run the homes from the government, there are no funds budgeted for
capital improvements such as fire safety mechanisms, upgrading the homes or a
green house.

They must also find funding from
the private sector and individuals for activities such as summer camp. Other
educational programmes are essential to getting children interested in the

While government provides much of
the financing for the homes, there are is a lot that people and companies in
the private sector can do to help the children to become healthy happy adults
says Sealey.

Sponsoring an eco-weekend at the
Little Cayman Research Centre would be an ideal motivational and educational activity
for some of the teenagers says Sealey.

Other individuals have offered to
provide professional services to continue to raise public awareness about the
Girls and Boys home within the community. Another person donated a riding lawnmower
for the large yards surrounding both the girls and boys homes. 

What is of particular concern is
upgrading both the girls and boys home to meet up-to-date fire safety
standards. In January, the girls’ home in Savannah was severely damaged by a
fire. It was later determined the girls home needed a fire alarm, a second fire
exit and a sprinkler system to meet fire safety standards. One building that
houses the boys also needs fire safety upgrades.

Donations of equipment, services or
funds to upgrade both the girls and boys homes would be a huge help in ensuring
the children’s safety says Sealey.

In the last few weeks, more people
in the community have offered to volunteer their time at the homes, which is a
boost to the foundation says Sealey.

Hedge Funds Care re-affirmed its
commitment to pay a part-time support worker who meets one-on-one with parents
to strengthen the household dynamic, enabling more children to be reintegrated
with their families.

The momentum in raising awareness
for both the homes continued when the newly elected Minister of Social Services
Mike Adam toured the girls’ home.

It is important to society as a
whole that more people become involved and active with the kids, because these
young people are the future of tomorrow says Sealey.