May 01, 2008
The architect of the Pre Mothers Day Celebration and Commendation Exercise of Exemplary Care Givers of Mothers on Nevis organised by the Social Services Department in the Nevis Island Administration, said on Tuesday April 29, 2008, that her personal experience and the need to show the youth positive role models, were the driving forces behind the project.
Gender Affairs Officer in the Department of Social Services Mrs. Oslyn Griffin-Kelly, told the Department of Information that the idea of the programme bubbled in her head when she joined the Gender Affairs Unit in February 2008. She said she later brought it to the attention of the Department’s Director Ms. Sandra Maynard who supported her idea and provided her with the necessary tools to plan and execute the programme.
“I was motivated from a personal standpoint. I often visit the elderly and I communicate with caregivers and I realized that our experiences have been similar. I was a care giver myself,” she said.
Mrs. Kelly recalled that her stint as a caregiver was not planned. However, she took a life changing decision while she was away at university in Canada to return to Nevis to care for her ailing parents.
The last of 12 living children who had migrated to other lands, Mrs. Kelly said it was difficult for the other members of her family to uproot themselves for varying reasons and she felt heartbroken and unfair that her mom had given birth to 17 children, which included two sets of twins and had to be left to care for herself and her husband (who was six years her elder) in her weakened state.
“So I made up my mind, it was not a matter of being forced or encouraged. I loved my parents and I felt that no matter what I accomplished in life, after they were gone, especially my mom, I would not have been able to live comfortable with myself knowing that after she had worked hard all her life which was focused around taking care of her family, should be suffering for want of companionship, care and someone to look up to as her own.
“I put aside my educational pursuits to return to the Caribbean to be with my mother and father in 1980. My mom died 10 years later and my dad lived 19 years after my return. I was the caregiver for both of them. I was not perfect but I knew my presence made a great difference and they appreciated my sacrifice because they talked about it often,” an emotional Mrs. Kelly said.
She explained that her experience made her aware of the difficulties, the rejection, lack of cooperation, the misunderstanding, neglect, the lack of support in some instances and the stress and distress experienced by caregivers and in many instances her heart reached out to them because moms worked hard, took care of their children with love and understanding.
Mrs. Kelly said it was unfortunate that some children forgot or refused to remember the sacrifices that mothers make and lacked empathy in some instances.
“I know that it is a good thing for caregivers who never have a feeling of abandonment but generally speaking, caregivers are compassionate people who love what they are doing and do not want to be recognised.
“But I say to those who made the effort to try their best to be tolerant and caring to their mothers in the time of old age and don’t see the nursing home as the first resort for care giving to their mothers, but with assistance from persons who are hired or volunteer to assist, they manage to keep their mothers in a familiar environment. I think that they deserve a lot, a lot of applause for the job they are doing and continue to do,” she said.
The first commendation exercise was held on April 27, 2008 at the Cultural Centre in Charlestown, and has been slated to become a permanent fixture in the Department’s annual list of activities.
Mrs. Kelly regarded the programme as one which was well received by the public particularly vas there were many other functions that were ongoing at the same time in the vicinity. She said at the end of the programme she felt a sense of accomplishment and a personal connection to the care givers who were recognised.
She listed a number of persons who assisted her with the programme from conception to execution, among them Legal Advisor in the Nevis island Administration Mr. Patrice Nisbett, who she said was excited about the idea, since he too had assisted his mother and uncle with the care giving of his grandmother.
The Director of the Department of Social Services Ms. Sandra Maynard who supported the idea and all her efforts and encouraged the staff to assist her in any way they could and Gender Affairs Coordinator Mrs. Salome James and Minister with responsibility for Social Transformation Hon. Hensley Daniel.