Have you ever wondered about the origin of love, compassion, and sympathy? These traits have been found to be limitless. These empathetic traits are not restricted to humans only, but their roots expand to every living being on the planet, including animals and plants. According to multiple studies, dolphins are rated the closest animals to humans in terms of their senses. In addition, their intellectual level and their ability to feel emotions that brings them closer to human beings. Dolphins take care and protect every member of their family while taking equal care of the other breeds who may be struggling and in need of help.
Similarly, every human is like a dolphin on land; we live in a society where we share our feelings of love and care among everyone living on it. Each individual person plays a fundamental part in making up of a family unit, which in turn sets the foundation for the building of a community. A family consists of infants and toddlers, who need utmost family care, and it is also comprised of members from the entire human cycle ending with the elderly, who are also in need of care and affection.
A wise person once said, “Life is unfair; the good days end sooner, and the tough days stay around, but the difficult times are transformed when you have a caring family around.” A community is a widespread family that has numerous families and contributing members. Thus, building a community with a support system for each of its members is vital to societal well-being.
The third part of our Social Responsibility mini-series is aimed at the segment of ‘Family’. In its broader sense, we will discuss some of the impact made by Range Developments and other organizations in Dominica on the most vulnerable members of the society, including vulnerable families, at-risk children and the elderly.
A support system for vulnerable families requires a multilayered approach and calls for apprehension towards various scenarios, including violence, disability, lack of resources, etc. Part of the solution scheme that needs to be in place next to counseling, and relief aid are preventative strategies, including educational campaigns for youth and employment skills development that leads to the empowerment of young adults and brings about much-needed awareness of just how vital the “healthy family factor” is in the process of upbringing a child.
To provide support with long-lasting results, it is essential to support organizations that are deeply rooted within a community and have an effective framework to provide the necessary help, by delivering tangible results in the families’ most challenging times. In its capacity, Range Developments has identified NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) in Dominica that are dedicated to improve the quality of life for vulnerable families and have the practical tools to bring about positive change.
Lifeline Ministries: A NGO that touches the lives of the most vulnerable in society by providing a voice to the unrepresented and victimized, empowering others to move on from their disasters to become agents for a positive change in society. Their social work includes support for families who have challenges with HIV, cancer, disabilities, and disasters. They also counsel women and girls dealing with gender-based violence and provide training and information to help build capacity within civil society.
Another organization dedicated to supporting vulnerable families is the newly formed Holistic Outreach for Parents Empowerment (H.O.P.E.). The organization aims its mission in providing support for the communities of the north. H.O.P.E. supports and educates vulnerable, disadvantaged, and isolated parents and children. They play their part by providing families with access to programs focused on empowerment and development of life skills, including parenting, health, and wellness so that they can be well equipped in the face of adversity.
Over the past years, Range Developments has stepped in to provide support for those organizations in form of resources such as beds & mattresses or clothing for families in need. In light of the current Covid19 pandemic that increased the situation’s graveness, RD has also partnered with H.O.P.E. to assist 200 single-parent families in Dominica with food and basic living essentials. Rice, beans, peas, powdered milk, noodle soups, and hygiene products were distributed to the families in optimum quantities for one month. A similar initiative was conducted in Grenada to support the most vulnerable members of society.
Children inherit the race, ethnicity, religion, and social class from their parents. This can play a defining part in the amount of struggle they face in their later lives. Some of them enjoy privileges everywhere they go and their route to success is relatively straightforward compared to those coming from dysfunctional families who may experience the exact opposite of a loving and caring environment. In short, the environment we grow up in is an important indicator of our chances in life.
A large proportion of the Caribbean children suffer from lack of a proper upbringing environment and stimulus for their development including structure provided by fully functional families, or a number of extra-curriculum activities. In worse scenarios, many children experience abuse, neglect and a number of other traumas. Often times these traumas translate to a closed-off approach in their later life and a lack of motivation for further development and thus success in their adult life.
Range has recognized its calling in turning those disadvantages around and working alongside children’s organizations that provide much needed support system for children in need.
Centre where Adolescents Learn to Love and Serve (CALLS) operates as an early childhood development centre, a craft and woodworking outlet, a laundry, and a farm at the One Mile agricultural station. CALLS offers a transformative program for the at risk adolescents of Dominica. The centre facilitates the development of youth into responsible, well rounded individuals, empowering them to lead successful lives through the acquisition of new skills, a superb work ethic and an aptitude for entrepreneurship and service.
Chances is a residential home catering to children and young persons aged up to 18 years. The organization takes into consideration all children, who have been victims of physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse, neglect, and abandonment. All residents’ needs, including health, education, religious belief, counseling, are catered holistically upon the requirement. The aim is to help the children overcome their negative and bad experiences and set themselves towards a more productive life.
Achievement Learning Center (ALC) is an organization committed to looking after the needs of special children, such as those suffering from Autism, Down Syndrome, and other related disorders. They have played a vital role in creating a free school for kids with these special needs. ALC specializes in special education, academic support, vocational training, computer skill training, reading intervention, adult education, life skill training, and many more.
Parents Advocating for the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Society (PACIS) is a non-profit organization serving the needs of children with disabilities. It began its operations in 2016 and have been heavily dependent on donations from different organizations. There are total of thirteen registered children who have varying degrees of disabilities ranging from Cerebral Palsy to Autism.
Isulukati Special Education School based in Carib territory caters to students with various types of disabilities including Down syndrome, deafness or Cerebral Palsy. It teaches its students both academic and life skills with major focus on developing employable skills and creation of self-sufficiency of the students in their adult life.
Support to these institutions include wide range of initiatives catering to the most pressing needs of those organizations such as re-constructions of properties, donations of wheelchairs, beds & mattresses, furniture, as well as providing facilities helping to the actual development of the children such as industrial sewing machine or an outdoor playground area.
What shall be recognized when dealing with at-risk children is the powerful role of empowerment. Empowerment through skill acquisition programs, inclusion, and social engagement can prove to be a game-changer and provide children with much needed positive outlook towards life.
Acknowledging this philosophy, Range Developments plays an active role in inclusion of at-risk children in variety of activities and social projects, therefore supports facilities dedicated to at-risk children not only in form of donations to alleviate the day to day cost but also by organizing ‘hands-on’ excursions and volunteering trips together with children from schools and other organizations. Some of the weekend volunteering trips were organized to Waitukubuli National Trail, first of its kind long distance hiking trail in the Caribbean to clear the trail from trees and debree after the hurricane Maria. Another such opportunity is organization of volunteering trips to Free-Up permaculture farm located in Syndicate.
“Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems” (Bill Mollison). Range has supported the development of the Free Up permaculture farm with vision to spread the knowledge about this labor efficient technique and encourages visits for anyone who wishes to learn this form of organic farming as a way to adopt practices leading to sustainable and healthy life.
“The wisdom and experience of older people is a resource of inestimable worth. Recognizing and treasuring the contributions of the older people is essential to the long-term flourishing of any society” (Daisaku Ikeda). Despite being a righteous members of the community, the older people are often overlooked and experience reduced attention from their family members. More often than not, elderly people also experience a number of diseases that require special care and dedication. For the contribution these elders have played to the society as youth, it is important they are looked after with utmost attention, and all of their needs are fully met.
Based on individual assessment of needs across the island, Range Developments is in cooperation with many institutions, sharing the responsibility of caring for the elderly in the form of long-term support. That includes the donation of wheelchairs, donation of bed & mattresses, linen bed-sheets, pillows, blankets, towels as well as care packages with food and hygiene products, uniforms for the carers or clothes for the residents. On multiple occasions, Range has also assisted with the donation of industrial washing machines and furniture.
Some of the beneficiaries are the Northern District Home for the Aged in Chance, Grotto House for the Homeless in Grange, New Age Home for the aged in Glanville, Dominica Infirmary, Dominica Council on Aging, Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities, St Vincent de Paul Society as well as Portsmouth Hospital, many health centers and individuals in need all across the island.
Caribbean islands, vastly seen as paradise by all outsiders, can be at the same time considered a cage in the many challenges the islands face on the way to success. It is nothing less than a responsibility for the private sector to step in and help in overcoming these difficulties. The struggles include the most vulnerable members of the society such as single parent families, at-risk children, or the elderly. As righteous members of our society, all deserve our care.
At Range Developments, we make sure to fulfill our social duty by doing everything possible within our capacity, but it isn’t enough. The struggles are real and no one would be able to defeat them all alone. It is said “In Unity There is Power”. Therefore, we need to join hands with governments, other corporates and individuals to create the society that is inclusive and such that creates support system and opportunities for everyone.