Aug 08, 2017 News
Designed to teach children coping mechanisms to help them deal with the loss of loved ones, the Giving Hope Foundation yesterday commenced a five-day Bereavement Camp at its 15 Drysdale and Ketley Streets, Charlestown, Georgetown office.
Since the non-for-profit Foundation has a two-pronged mission to help combat the prevalence of cancer and suicide, the Bereavement Camp is one that will cater to children whose relatives met their demise because of cancer and suicide.
The opening ceremony was graced by First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, who commended the Foundation for spearheading the inaugural venture which is expected to become one of its signature annual events.
Delivering her message directly to the children in attendance yesterday, the First Lady addressed the issues of bereavement. “This is a hard time, when many of you cannot understand when someone you love has been taken from you. You may feel angry; you may feel sad; you may ask yourself ‘Why has this happened to me?’ Some of you may even blame yourself.”
Such feelings, according to Mrs. Granger, are difficult for anyone, especially for a child or teenager. “This is why the Giving Hope Foundation has organised this Bereavement Camp to help you cope with these feelings.” She however noted that the occasion will not be one that will dwell only on the passing of loved ones as a sad affair, but rather “You will learn how to remember your loved ones by creating a memory frame for that person. You will express your feelings about his or her death in words and art. You can make a family tree so that you understand the importance of a support system.”
Also addressing the opening ceremony yesterday was Mrs. Evelyn Paton-Williams who attended and spoke on behalf of Senior Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence.
“I recognise that it’s a traumatic experience to lose loved ones at such tender ages,” said Paton-Williams. Such a situation, according to her, can create a void and in some instances may mentally affect a child and even cause aggressive behaviour.
“I hope that this experience of togetherness, where you will be able to talk openly about your grief, and where you will be counselled and provided with coping skills will be a source of consolation and provide the platform for you to move forward,” Paton-Williams noted.
She moreover expressed confidence that although life can appear cruel at times, “I strongly believe that you will receive the reassurances of comfort and support from the Giving Hope Foundation that has pledged to interact with you and create pathways of care, hope, and support.”
But according to Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation [PAHO/WHO] Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow, every person grieves differently as does every child. He however noted that childhood grief is more common than most people realise. He therefore pointed out that knowing how to talk and guide a child who has experienced a death of someone close to them can be a challenging one.
He added, “It is normal for adults to want to protect children from difficult experiences and information; unaddressed grief though, can cause youths to feel isolated and alone both in their family and from other children.”
Dr. Adu-Krow also amplified yesterday that children who are grieving are at greater risk than their peers for depression, suicide, poverty and substance-related abuse too.
But according to the PAHO/WHO Representative, it must be recognised that grief is a normal and natural in response to death and thus is a lifelong process. He explained that it is made up of many different emotions. However, “through understanding, support and opportunities to freely express thoughts and feelings, children and teens can develop healthy coping skills that enhance their lives. A child’s hope can be restored if their bereavement process is handled better,” he assured.
The opening ceremony of the Bereavement Camp was filled with appropriate entertaining pieces including vocal renditions and a touching poem by Katianna Ross.
According to President and Founder of the Foundation, Dr. Latoya Gooding, sessions for the camp will be supported by the Ministry of Public Health, Beacon Foundation, fashion designer, Sonia Noel, and PAHO/WHO. The camp, she disclosed, is being sponsored by Edward Beharry and company, BAK Import and Export Inc., Caribbean International Distributors Inc., and Ansa McAl.
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