GRAND BAHAMA, The Bahamas – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe recognized social workers for their dedication and called on all Bahamians to look within themselves, address the problems in our country and not turn a blind eye.
“Children are the future. We have to train them and show them the way and cause them to always understand and appreciate that they must never be abused, never be taken advantage of,” he said.
“If we can cause for more peace in our communities, get away from the fighting and the war, get our young men to put aside the guns, save some lives and talk some sense into some people.” He continued, we have to talk about it, we can’t pretend as if it doesn’t exist.
Minister Wilchcombe’s comments came during a special church service at Calvary Temple on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 kicking off Child Protection Month.
April is observed internationally as Child Protection Month when special awareness is placed, not only on physical violence directed towards a child, but any form of ill-treatment by an adult which is violent or threatening for a child.
This year’s theme: One Nation Uniting to Protect Our Children.
Last year, a total of 122 child abuse cases were reported to the Child Protection Unit of the Department of Social Services in Grand Bahama.
As The Bahamas commemorates 50 years of independence, Minister Wilchcombe said there is much to celebrate, particularly a number of our young people who have done exceptionally well, the fact that Bahamians have won a number of Olympic gold medals and Grammy awards and The Bahamas can even boast of a young Bahamian woman traveling into space, yet he questioned what is happening in our communities.
“Have we allowed our thirst and our exposure and our invasion of materialism to impact us in such a way that we have lost our way? That is the question when we consider the problems that we face,” Minister Wilchcombe said, while adding that there is no finger to point and no one to blame but ourselves.
He also called on Bahamians to think about the journey and the efforts made by the founding fathers of the nation and those men and women who fought for the country, sacrificed, believed and had the courage to make a difference.
Minister Wilchcombe commended the 16 honourees from throughout the community for the work they have done over the years with the Department of Social Services and paid special tribute to social workers for their unending selfless acts that go far beyond the call of duty.
“The levels to which they have to sacrifice; the level to which they have not been properly compensated for their work. The fact that over the years they have been ignored for what they have had to do and seen simply as a department. They’re dealing with those individuals who seemed the least important in our society.
“Truth is, everyone is important in our society and that perception will change and our people will be recognized properly, no matter how long it takes. I salute you because of the work that you do,” he said.
Minister Wilchcombe said it is his hope that more programs will be introduced in the coming years to cause for children to be given the level of support that they need.
Another hope of his, he said, is that the country can bring more peace back to the land and return to the love it had for one another and demonstrate to the world that when we say it is better in The Bahamas, it is better for visitors and all Bahamians.
Making up the16 honourees during the special ceremony were Mrs. Renea Rolle-Quant, Ms. Malvina Albury, Ms. Janene Arnett, Ms. Kesheia Morris, Mr. Clarence Hield, Ms. Letica Burrows, Ms. Lorena Clceron-Jusma, Ms. June Hutcheson, Magistrate Charlton Smith, Mrs. Cassietta McIntosh-Pelecanos, Dr. Gregory Swann, Mrs. Joyce Pinder, Rev. Marie Roach-Hepburn, Mrs. Demaris Thompson, Mr. Hezekiah Dean and Mr. Shuffel Hepburn.
Host Pastor, Dr. Robert Lockhart delivered the sermon and noted that while parenting is not easy, it is worth the effort.
Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey and Deputy Director of Urban Development Senator Kirkland Russell were among the dignitaries and special guests in attendance.
Other activities planned during the month are a student empowerment seminar on Thursday, April 20th and a Fun, Run, Walk on Saturday, April 29, 2023 beginning at 6:00am from Seahorse Plaza to Taino Beach.
The Department is also encouraging all government officers, Quasi-Government, those in the private sector and the general public to wear royal blue every Friday during the month of April in observance of Child Protection Month.