Sustainability still a worry, as Mercy Wings celebrates 10 years

In a press release the centre said it has been “a decade of learning and growth, of challenge, sometimes of struggle, but also of success and accomplishment, and always of great joy and hope for the future.”

To celebrate, the board and administration will host a thanksgiving mass. Plans are also in train to start a trainee alumni association, to publish the centre’s Fourth Annual Report, to launch a ‘Sponsor a Trainee’ project, to officially open its new library to the local community and to host a reception.

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 2000, Mercy Wings aims to facilitate the transformation of youths who have been labelled “failures” into persons with self-esteem, sound moral values, healthy spirituality and social consciousness. “Empowerment through human development and skills training enables them to be self-sufficient, motivated to take charge pf their lives and become agents of social and attitudinal changes,” the release said.

According to the release about 300 trainees have graduated from the programme. Most of them have secured jobs while others have opted to pursue advanced education. The centre said it registers about 100 trainees of all ethnic groups in its year-long programme for which classes are held from 8 am to 3.30 pm. The youth hail mainly from the Sophia area, where the centre is located. Classes in English, Mathematics, Basic Computer Skills and Adolescent Development are offered.

The centre said it is in the process of revising its curriculum and intends to craft one based on competency. One-on-one or small group tutoring in basic literacy is provided as needed. Instruction is also available in Catering and Home Management, Child Care and Care of the Elderly, General Construction: carpentry, joinery, masonry and plumbing.

The centre said Adolescent Development is a major component of its programme as it helps teenagers to learn who they are, develop a positive self-image, explore the nature of family and their relationships with their parents and siblings. It also consists of anger management and conflict resolution courses, and gives practical information about drugs, alcohol, AIDS, smoking, gambling and violent behaviour. Special classes such as drumming, dance and dramatics are provided when possible.  In addition to academic and skills classes, trainees are given an opportunity in weekly craft sessions to explore their creative side and, through field trips, gain a broader lens through which to view the world. “Field trips always include a visit to the prison, where trainees have an opportunity to hear from the staff and several of the prisoners in order to encourage them to make wise choices in their own lives,” the release said.

The programme also entails physical education and sports events and competitions with other local programmes are often scheduled.

Another major aspect is the provision of a daily, nutritious hot lunch for trainees, breakfast is provided on an as-needed basis. A basic child-care facility is also available for the community and for trainees.

Mercy Wings also collaborates with other organizations in the area hosting basic skills education programmes and with the Ministry of Education. It also taps into local expertise for guest lecturers in the areas of healthy lifestyles, AIDS prevention, the dangers of alcohol and drug consumption and effective parenting.

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