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|Nassau Guardian: South Eleuthera On A Mission|
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|Posted by:||Jul 16th 2009, 02:31:26 pm|
|Briland Modem Fund Team||Congratulations to Chandra Sands, Althea Gibson and the entire South Eleuthera Mission team:
By Chakara Bennett
Nassau Guardian (Bahamas)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The South Eleuthera Mission building "aka" The Mission, will be much more than a pretty structure to the people of South Eleuthera — it will be the heart and soul of a community healing from a social and economic crisis that has persisted for an extensive period of time.
The building which formerly housed the old Rock Sound Community Clinic is being restored into a multi-faceted community center that will not only cater to local children, but adults and visitors as well in terms of holistic learning.
It is a place where concerned citizens hope the children of the community will find ambition. A place where members of the community will be encouraged to step in and help raise kids like days of old. Like the saying goes "It takes a village to raise a child" and that's what they hope will be done through The Mission. Committee members believe that is still true today, and that everyone needs to lend a hand, rather than shun or ignore children and adults who are in need. A major part of The Mission will be to provide opportunities for the talented, but unchallenged, who often end up slipping through the cracks.
"We need to help the teenage mother who had to drop out of school to continue with her education even if it is just through online programs and classes so that she can still have dreams, accomplish them and do better for herself and her child," says Chandra Sands, one of the nine directors of the South Eleuthera Mission. "The country itself has so many positive role models and if The Mission could establish a really strong mentorship program there would be a better chance that more kids stay afloat and do wonders with their never-ending potential," she said.
Fellow director Ronald Horton, hopes The Mission will inspire the youth and encourage them to no longer waste their talent. They also want to assist students by providing classes that would prepare them for exams and teach them what they need to know in preparation for larger schools like college and trade schools.
For those youngsters and adults who plan to enter the job market they hope to put on seminars and classes that would teach participants how to present themselves, behave and create resumes in anticipation of meeting a potential employer.
Plans for the center also include separate libraries for children and adults, a reading room, a computer cafe and a historical museum. The center will also provide multiple programs and classes for students and adults to benefit from arts and crafts, cooking and Junkanoo costume creating. The more practical studies such as carpentry, sewing, masonry, business planning and administrating will be offered to older persons who want to learn a trade, with all the classes taught by volunteer experts.
The Mission renovation project, which started in 2005, is comprised of people from settlements throughout South Eleuthera, who have raised $575,000 through self-help efforts towards the building's renovations. The non-profit organization still has to mend the roof of the building, and plans to officially open the facility in November — whether the roof is on or not, because they think a center of this magnitude is too important to just languish empty. In spite of the roof needing mending, directors decided to host summer activities at the center this year, to the delight of the teenagers.
Avariana Albury, a 16-year-old 11th grader student at Preston H. Albury School has watched the building change over the past four years, and says she can't wait for it to be completed after hearing the committee members talk about the many programs that she could get involved with.
"I really wanted to do arts and crafts but it has been even better, now that it is open for the summer because we have cooking classes and my dream is to become a world-class chef one day, so, The Mission is really helping me to get where I want to go in life," said Albury.
Similarly, Tanisha Brathwaite also waited with bated breath for the past few years for the project to be completed so that she could see exactly what the new community center would offer her and her peers. She says that when she first heard about the project she couldn't exactly imagine how the project leaders would transform the old clinic into someplace people would really want to be. At the same time, she realized after listening to what was being said about the project, that The Mission would be an excellent idea and give students the opportunity to do more with themselves and their school lives.
"Having a computer lab open to all of us, especially those without access to computers would broaden the possibilities for many students who need to do research and type up work for school but could never do it. Our horizons are really growing and I think many students will see this opportunity as a way to do better in school and really see that the sky is not the limit and we aren't limited unless we want to be," she said.
Sands says they still need more computers and other equipment for the Internet cafe and that the museum still needs to be completed, but they hope to have everything in place by the new school year so that the children could benefit from the center even more.
She further said that The Mission is just what the South Eleuthera community needs to make a positive, unifying and lasting change, in the communities that make up their neighborhood — Tarpum Bay, Rock Sound, Green Castle, Water Ford, Deep Creek, Wemyss Bight, Millars and Bannerman Town. Accomplishing what they've been able to do so far she says speaks to the success of what true teamwork and togetherness in a community can do.
The Mission building has been a chief cornerstone in the Rock Sound area in one way or the other over the past 100-plus years. With the renovation to a community center, it will continue to play an essential role in the daily lives of residents and that of future generations.
The building was originally built in the 19th century by Methodist missionaries, and was initially used as a place for inhabitants in the southern region to got to be taught and mentored spiritually and academically. As years passed, the building found other uses. During the major hurricane of 1866, it was utilized as a shelter for residents whose homes were destroyed during the storm. In fact, the building is considered to be the forerunner of hurricane shelters in the country today. Unfortunately, by the 1940s the mission house lost its importance as a missionary platform and was transformed into a community clinic for Eleutherans. After being used for more than 60 years as a medial facility, the building in 2003 was once again abandoned. Through local petitioning permission was granted for the residents to use the building for its original purpose as a community center once again.
Van Pyfrom Oldham, a volunteer instructor in the summer program at The Mission, feels that center will be an even more positive influence today, than it was as part of a missionary agenda a long time ago or a local clinic most recently.
"I am extremely happy to see The Mission come alive finally. We have appreciated it as a clinic for many years, but right now I feel that it is being used for an even more useful purpose than ever before. It gives everyone reason to want to come together as a more close-knit community — undivided by religious belief, education, occupation or anything else. This project has pulled down many walls and made us a better community in the process," she said. Oldham, a recently retired local teacher of 48 years will offer teaching services to the children this summer.
Mission directors have held an annual heritage and cultural festival for the past six years as a fundraising effort in their goal. The Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation and Pat MacLean, an expert in architectural restoration projects who moved to Eleuthera with her husband Peter from England have assisted in the restoration efforts.
Peter MacLean, another of the Mission's directors says the center is making great progress, but still has a long way to go until it is officially completed. He said the center could even become the prototype to similar projects in different islands. He also admits that even when completed, maintaining the center as a non-profit organization will not be free or easy, and that it has been estimated that it will cost in the region of $200,000 for the first year.
Individuals wanting to lend a helping hand, send a donation or learn more about the South Eleuthera Mission project, can visit www.southeleutheramission.com or write to The South Eleuthera Mission, P.O. Box E.L. 26030, Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas.
THE SOUTH ELEUTHERA MISSION
Project started: April 2005
Tentative completion date: November 2009 Funds raised: $575,000 as of June 30, 2009 Funds still needed: $500,000 (for roof and refurbishment of center) Funds needed for first first year of operation: $200,000
Built: 19th century by Methodist Missionaries Located in: Rock Sound, Eleuthera Used as a Hurricane shelter in 1866 Used as Rock Sound community clinic from 1940-2003 Will be officially used as a community center as of November 2009.
South Eleuthera comprises of: Tarpum Bay, Rock Sound, Green Castle, Water Ford, Deep Creek, Wemyss Bight, Millars and Bannerman Town
SOUTH ELEUTHERA MISSION DIRECTORS:
Dr. Keith Tinker
us online at