Haitian children sleeping ‘peacefully’ since arriving in Jamaica Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

“It is a joy to go to bed without hearing gunshots.”

This sentiment was expressed by two of the 59 Haitian children with disabilities who recently arrived in Jamaica from their war-torn home in Haiti, according to Father Garvin Augustine, executive director of Mustard Seed Communities International—the non-profit organisation now housing the children and their 13 caregivers.

In a recent interview, Augustine shared that despite them having to face the trauma of fleeing their home—which has been rocked by violence, with gangs torching police stations, opening fire on the main international airport, and storming the country’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates—the children are now in a better space physically and mentally.

In fact, he disclosed that they’ve been sleeping “very peacefully” since their arrival in Jamaica two weeks ago.

“It’s an adjustment for them, as anyone would imagine, so I’m sure it will take some time before they really feel at home, but as best as I can say, they are comfortable,” Augustine said.

“I must say the children and the staff have been sleeping very well, so they’re not uncomfortable, they’re not making noise, they’re not getting up… they sleep through the night, and we have caregivers who actually monitor them while they’re sleeping, and they sleep very peacefully,” he said, before sharing the children’s remark about being able to go to bed without hearing gunshots.

They are being housed at the newly built Ephesus Village at Jacob’s Ladder in Moneague, St Ann.

Father Garvin Augustine, executive director of Mustard Seed Communities International

Mustard Seed Communities (MSC) Jamaica and HaitiChildren signed an MOU for the former to provide accommodation for the children and their caregivers. The arrangement is initially for two years and funding will be provided by HaitiChildren’s various established donors.

Since the agreement is a temporary one, Augustine disclosed that there are no plans to integrate the children into Jamaica’s system.

“The arrangement we have with this children’s home from Haiti is that we keep them temporarily, and, hopefully, if at some point things get better, they can go back to Haiti. That’s how far the discussion has gone,” he said, adding, “We don’t know what tomorrow or the next couple of years will bring, but the present arrangement is a temporary one, so there is no discussion about adoption, citizenship, or integrating anybody into the Jamaican system.”

Since their arrival on March 21, the children have been receiving counselling and health services through the MSC staff and with assistance from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

“There are some doctors who have offered their services to us. So, after the two-week quarantine period that is being monitored by the Ministry of Health, we would be on our own; that’s where some of the private doctors would come in to offer their services—doctors, dentists, and so on—to check out the kids, so we will be reaching out to them at that point,” Augustine said.

In the meantime, he shared that the current focus is on addressing the children’s basic needs.

“What we are looking at immediately, and we have been getting donations locally [for] are basic things like any form of food items—rice, flour, oil, sugar, milk, toilet papers, toothpaste, diapers—and all of those basic supplies that the children would need on a day-to-day basis, that is what we have been reaching out to get,” Augustine said.

Individuals interested in donating to the children can reach out to the MSC by phone at 876-618-1537 or via email at [email protected].

According to the UN, at least 1,554 people have been reported killed up to March 22 and another 826 injured in Haiti.

By Chantae McNeil