Sophie’s Place is a haven for mentally and physically disabled children in Jamaica.
Sophie’s Place provides a substitute home for severely mentally and physically challenged, dependent, neglected children attempting to restore their broken lives.
To accomplish this goal Sophie’s Place employs the assistance of long- and short-term volunteers, administrative staff, an occupational therapist, a priest, teachers and several missionaries.
A priest from the community church caters to the home and conducts devotions with the children and staff daily. Missionaries, who reside at the home, are also a constant source of assistance.
Night Duty Personnel
At night, three individuals, who did not work during the day, are on duty.
Lastly, but not the least important, is the gardener who maintains a beautiful environment for everyone at Sophie’s Place.
The community is one of the more reliable resources for Sophie’s Place. They contribute cash and kind; especially the supermarket and Consolidated Bakeries.
However, not everyone was so inclined, over ten years ago, to be generous leaving the home in need of roughly two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) to implement all the required plans to better facilitate the children that reside there, in 2007.
The University of Technology
The University of Technology (UTech) facilitates a therapy programme for the children who are transported there, daily.
They receive physiotherapy, Jacuzzi hydrotherapy, and deep pressure massage, touch therapy, desktop activities of coloring, block building and etiquette practices with volunteers drawn from the institution.
The Occupational Therapist
The Occupational Therapist from Canada, Ms. Angela Langor, has volunteered her services and has been a major asset to the home. She has identified the physical deterioration of the children owing to lack of sensation, response, touch, and movement (sensory deprivation).
She actively solicited donations from over a hundred agencies with her return less than one percent.
In Canada, they were more receptive, and she managed to raise enough funds to come back and start a wedge-making project for the physically disabled children. Though deflated but not defeated she is discouraged by the lack of response and has sought the option of going back to her own country to seek further assistance.
Ms. Langor constantly seeks to make the lives and daily experiences of the children a bit easier.
She is one of the 10 Occupational therapists in Jamaica who is trained in brain and physical functions. She has focused her attention on the cognitive learning impact rehabilitation and her training allows her to get the children to use their upper body and thinking in a functional way.
The children are not capable of getting attention like normal children; therefore, they act out by grinding their teeth, shaking, puking, or moaning loudly.
These behaviors are negative and have consequences for the children, as in the case of puking. They have limited sensation and the area of the greatest sensation is their abdomen; therefore, it is easy for them to regurgitate their foods.
Ms. Langor identified music as a calming stimulant for some children and makes good use of it in her daily routine.
Nestled beside the ever soothing rushing rivers in Gordon Town, Sophie’s Place comprises of a basic school, living quarters for the children, administrative offices, missionary quarters, the laundry area, and a lovely chapel for the children’s and staff’s spiritual needs.
A bus provides a valuable service in transporting the children wherever they need to go, though few, these places are important to the children’s daily existence. The home, however, does not boast its own medical facility and must utilize the service of the Gordon Town health center.
The Little Angel’s Learning Centre
The Little Angel’s Learning Centre has two classrooms for children two to three years and four to five years, respectively.
This center is dependent on the services offered by the two teachers. The children who utilize the amenities are not from the home, but from the wider community as the children at the home are not capable of using these facilities now.
There are three cottages on the compound. One for girls, one for boys, and one for babies; painted in pink, blue, and yellow correspondingly. Each has approximately ten to twelve beds; the babies’ cottage has four cribs modified for their specific needs.
There is a spiritual Adoration room that is adjoined to the chapel. The chapel is used at least three times per day for devotional sessions.
Sophie’s Place does not include its own priest; therefore, they use the service of the Catholic Church across the street. Meanwhile from the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. any one person, at a time, can use the Adoration room.
The Large Lawn
There is a relatively large lawn and open space at Sophie’s place for the children to play and get some sun. The gardener takes wonderful care of the lawn and flowers and its aesthetic beauty pleases the children.
However, the assistants at the home would like to have a shaded area where the children can go outside during the days. They are seeking assistance in purchasing zinc and other building materials. They have built a swing set, conversely, this is underutilized as most of the children are not capable of using it.
This home is actively and constantly seeking donations to meet the needs of its residents. The children are predisposed to deformities caused by not being able to react to sensations or moving themselves. Therefore, their malformation is increased by their sleeping positions. The joints and muscles stiffen making it extremely hard for physically disabled children to have movement.
Wedges are being made by the occupational specialist to help reduce the deformities and stiffness, these are put at the backs and feet at night, however, a great deal of funds is crucial to offset the cost. Living, daily, or even medical expenses accrue, and financial donations would assist in purchasing clothing, curtains, sheets, and other necessities for the home.
As Ms. Langor stated in the interview, the resources are poor and limited at Sophie’s Place. Donations are few and far between and persons are largely unwilling to assist because they do not understand the needs of the children.
Ms. Langor’s approach is one of Education and Awareness.
It has been her experience that once people see the disability of the children at the home they are unwilling to contribute as they believe the children are not worth the effort. Some basic items such as gym mats, bathtub aids, massaging and stretching implements, wedges, sewing materials and foam are needed.
Approximately 200 pieces are required at $40 Canadian a piece or $200,000 Jamaican dollars in total. Projects are always at Sophie’s Place such as building a shaded area, painting fence and yard projects; but the resources whether human, financial, or physical are pitiful to be of satisfactorily assistance with all the mounting needs at Sophie’s Place.
This information is from Sophie’s Place, a book I wrote over ten years ago to draw awareness; please contact the home for a more updated list of their needs.
If you are inclined to assist Sophie’s Place, please contact Mustard Seed at:
Mustard Seed Communities
P.O. Box 267, Kingston 10 Jamaica, West Indies
Phone: + 1 876-923-6488
About the writer:
Poetess Denise N. Fyffe is a published author of over 30 books, for more than ten years and enjoys Training, Publishing, and Counseling. She is a freelance writer for online publications such as Revealing the Christian Life, Jamaica Rose, Entertainment Trail, My Trending Stories among others.
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