Sophie’s Place is a haven for mentally and physically disabled children in Jamaica.
Socio-culture is defined as of or involving both social and cultural factors according to the Lexicon student dictionary.
The socio-cultural difficulties facing Sophie’s Place are many and include economic deprivation as the families for these children are not able to provide financially for their children resulting in their condition worsening.
This occurs due to the lack of physical therapy, the lack of instruments to alleviate some of the problems associated with mental health problems, and long-term bed rest.
The families of the children at the Home were not aware of dangers such as meningitis which contribute to a growing mentally ill minority group. This has direct impacts on their education resulting from unawareness of the potential risks of contracting certain diseases and measures that could have been taken to combat the problems.
The children of Sophie’s place were given love in the Mustard Seed community but speaking with the caregivers it was realized that at the children’s respective homes, this was not the case in most instances. Hence the children are sent to Mustard Seed as they are not wanted by the families.
According to the occupational therapist, the populations of mentally challenged children are on the rise in Jamaica. With the increase in children with HIV, meningitis, and autisms in shelters across the island the situation is becoming worse.
She sighted the lack of education from the parent perspective along with the lack of resources that were mentioned before as significant factors.
She informed of the challenges of taking care of mentally challenged children and first-hand observations of some of these challenges were seen thus the understanding of the reason why some parents would abandon their children.
Lack of Family Support
The lack of family support for these children further pushes them to the back burner of society as they crave for the simplest show of affection. If this is not received, they scream, they bite, and they train their stomach to regurgitate food.
All of this in an effort, to do something, to feel some stimulation bearing in mind they cannot walk or communicate properly.
Lack of Basic Education
Basic education or skills is not accessible to this group based on the level of brain damages as they are not able to grasp the principles, however, it must be noted that there has been at least one successful case in the past where one child – Judean, was successful in sitting and placing in the GSAT examination.
Based on the lack of facilities for disabled students at the school she was awarded a place, she was placed at the School of Hope where I was told she is doing quite well.
Dependency on Others
The children at Sophie’s Place are unable to walk, unable to do the basic tasks for themselves and they operate at the kindergarten level with respect to a normal child even if they are much older than that child. This means that the children are not equipped with the requisite skills to be independent. They are going to be dependent on social organizations, friends, and relatives in their community for the rest of their lives.
As stated earlier some of these families do not want the children and as such, they are institutionalized, and owing to the large population, they are unable to get the individualized attention needed. Resulting in further depression and subsequently becoming gravely ill.
Sophie’s Place has opened its doors to the wider community by allowing the basic school to be on the compound.
The result is that the children and their parents can know and accept their disabled friends while providing some stimulation for the residence of Sophie’s Place and the children living in the community.
This was in an effort to stop the stigmas associated with the mentally and/or physically challenged as it was typically seen as a place where unwanted children are sent to die but in reality, it is a Home of spiritual enlightenment and hope.
The challenges these children face are many, they are looking at an unknown future devoid of, for the most part, love, affection, empathy, and discoveries.
They are facing a life in a system that does not cater to the individual, as there are just not enough resources. They see a life of little or no job opportunities for their types of challenges and further challenged with a life of dependency, which may insight, abuse, and neglect.
The group is looking at a life ablaze with stigmas associated with ignorance from the wider society, which would rather see them locked away from society without the joy of goal setting, accomplishments, or discoveries.
It is my opinion that there is a need for education of the masses on the dangers of certain diseases to mental health; there should also be a thrust towards understanding minority problems and putting in measures to combat them.
The approach taken by Sophie’s place to sensitize the families in the community is one approach to take in the long-term plan of educating the society.
Off the Gordon Town main road is located a Home known as Sophie’s Place which caters to the needs of over twenty-five severely physically and mentally challenged children.
The Home got its genesis from its benefactor’s kindness who donated the premises to the Mustard seed community with the hope of it been named Sophie’s Place in honor of his daughter.
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 children are predisposed to deformities caused by not being able to react to sensations or moving themselves. Therefore, their deformity is increased by their sleeping positions. The joints and muscles stiffen making it awfully hard for physically disabled children to have movement. This occurs due to the lack of physical therapy, the lack of instruments to alleviate some of the problems associated with mental health problems, and long-term bed rest.
The families of the children at the Home were not aware of dangers such as meningitis which contribute to a growing mentally ill minority group. This means that the children are not equipped with the requisite skills to be independent.
They are going to be dependent on social organizations, friends, and relatives in their community for the rest of their lives.
The challenges these children face is many, they are looking at an unknown future devoid of, for the most part, love, affection, empathy, and discoveries. They are facing a life in a system that does not cater to the individual, as there are just not enough resources.
They see a life of little or no job opportunities for their types of challenges and further challenged with a life of dependency, which may insight, abuse, and neglect.
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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