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Carapichaima parish relaunches migrant Child Friendly Space

The Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Carapichaima Parish Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (PMMR) relaunched its child-friendly space (CFS) at the parish hall on September 6.

The ceremony commenced at approximately 9 a.m. with the welcome and opening remarks delivered by PMMR Chairperson Gail Jackson-Smith. She welcomed the parish priest Fr Gerard Bernier, Fr Roger Paponette and other invited guests.

Fr Bernier opened the forum with a special prayer, blessing members of the Venezuelan migrant community.

PMMR Education and Research Officer Linda Wharwood was unable to attend the opening and sent her greetings which were read by Christopher Jackson. She reminded that it was Pope Francis who mandated the faithful to open their arms and hearts to the migrant community.

It was against this background that the CFS was opened in September 2019 with an initial enrolment of nine children. At the onset of the pandemic, 42 children were registered.

During the pandemic, the CFS was used to distribute over 3000 hampers and provided migrant families with other services. “We never stopped working, we never stopped begging and we found ways to reach each migrant family within the community”, Wharwood said in her message.

As the CFS was relaunched, after some two and a half years of shut down due to the pandemic, 60 children registered, and eagerly awaited the reopening. There are even more children who cannot be accommodated at this time due to lack of volunteers and funds.

In her message, Wharwood thanked all who worked tirelessly to assist the migrant community – parishioners, sponsors, facilitators and most important, PMMR volunteers.

Present at the reopening was Zahirah Mohammed, Child Friendly Spaces Manager for the Archdiocesan Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (AMMR), who acknowledged the work that the PMMR has done to date. She congratulated the PMMR for reopening the CFS after two years.

Special guests included Acting Chair, Catholic Commission for Social Justice, and Programme Manager, AMMR, Darrion Narine; and UNICEF Child Friendly Spaces Coordinator, Matthew Batson.

At the opening, 42 children were present although 65 were registered to attend classes. The children were excited and extremely happy to be back in their space.

The ceremony ended with guests mingling and talking to the children before classes began. —Rosemarie Siewnarine, parishioner