KINGSTON, Jamaica: The VM Foundation has made a $100,000 donation to support the Missing Children’s Support Programme, an initiative of Hear the Children’s Cry, a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
Speaking at a recent handover ceremony at VM’s Corporate Offices in Kingston, CEO of the VM Foundation, Samantha Charles, commended the stellar work that has been done by the team of advocates for the past 20 years and made an appeal to the public to provide additional assistance to support groups working to provide aid to families of missing children and to find the children themselves.
“It is worrying how many of our young people go missing on a yearly basis,” she remarked. “Some of our little boys and girls, the most vulnerable among us, endure unspeakable atrocities and experience severe trauma.”
She continued, “I would love to see greater support from citizens and corporate entities so that advocacy groups like Hear the Children’s Cry can continue their work of reuniting missing children with their families and allowing them to access the medical and psychological services they need as part of their rehabilitation.”
Since its launch in April 2009, the Missing Children’s Support Programme has been the primary means of raising public awareness regarding young people who have been separated from their families. Working in collaboration with the security forces, the advocates who have oversight of the programme have managed to access statistics on missing children and conduct data analysis which have been used to publish relevant information that has been instrumental in different cases.
Founder of Hear the Children’s Cry, Betty Ann Blaine, gave further details of the level of support given by her organisation.
“We keep the public informed through print and digital media regarding missing and abducted children. We publish photos, where available, we write press releases, we facilitate media interviews, we hold press conferences, we post on social media and we network with stakeholders to ensure that our message of child protection and safety gets into schools and that parents play an integral role in those conversations,” she noted. “We have to fight for the children of this nation because their life and our future depend on it.”
While citing the feats that advocacy groups like hers have managed to achieve, Blaine echoed Charles’ sentiments and called for the strengthening of networks at different levels across the island to combat the prevalence of cases of missing children.
“Hear the Children’s Cry is blessed to be able to carry on our work after 20 years despite the many challenges. Running an NGO is not a one-man or one-woman job. It requires partnership. It requires continued support. It’s a noble cause that asks us as Jamaicans to put ourselves in the shoes of the families who send these young children to the shop, to church or to school and have to suffer the hurt of not having them return home,” she stated. “We can and should do much more for our children.”
To get in touch with or make a donation to the Hear the Children’s Cry organisation, visit hearthechildrencryja.com.