|GASDC celebrates 10th anniversary - Jun 7|
|2009 - Caribbean Church News|
|Friday, 05 June 2009 14:57|
The Grand Anse Social Development Centre (GASDC) celebrated its 10th anniversary with a graduation ceremony on May 13 at the Grenada Trade Centre in Morne Rouge, under the theme Never giving up on a dream.
Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean and Lady Norma Glean headed the list of honoured guests who included Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, Social Services Minister Glynis Roberts and Education Minister Franka Bernadine.
Bishop Emeritus Sydney Charles led the opening prayer after the singing of the National Anthem by the students, following which board member and ceremony moderator Hugh Dolland gave introductory words of welcome.
The programme included singing, dancing, a hair and fashion show as well as speeches by principal Sr Dominic Xavier Sandy, O Carm and Minister Roberts. Graduates received certificates, and awards were presented to benefactors and supporters including Sir Reginald Palmer, Dr Keith Mitchell, the Kiltegan Fathers and Sr Maureen Alexander SJC.
The valedictory address was delivered by Deandra Bishop, the most outstanding academic student; Catherine Bethel gave the vote of thanks. Margaret Granger prepared the students for the graduation through a spiritual retreat, which the girls described as “awe-inspiring”. An exhibition put on by four of the classes was mounted for the audience to view.
Following is an edited version of Sr Dominic Xavier’s speech (in photo):
As a Sister and social worker, having seen the conditions of so many young girls in my country - with no sense of direction, lacking real purpose - I became concerned. I visited the Ministry of Social Services where I was referred to the Permanent Secretary who asked me to do a project proposal. This was accepted.
A subvention was organised to assist with the payment of salaries, meals and transportation fees for the students. That is how GASDC came into being. GASDC was officially opened in 1999 with me as project coordinator, ably supported and guided by a very competent board of directors along with the Ministry of Social Services.
The Centre caters for girls 14-18 who have unfortunately not functioned successfully within the conventional school system. It was with this in mind that we provided a place for them whereby they can be given a second chance to develop holistically.
We started in a dilapidated building, which was not conducive to study. Allow me to give a few examples: flooring decay, infested building, no electricity, ceiling and windows broken. I decided to seek financial assistance to refurbish the building. Here, I would like to thank all those who have assisted in making this possible.
With improved facilities, the students progressed excellently, resulting in the programme being broadened with most of the curriculum and skills introduced. They included Computer Literacy, Cosmetology, Food and Nutrition, Personal Counselling. Everything progressed well until hurricanes Ivan and Emily. Despite this, however, we must thank God that we survived these disasters.
Once again assistance was given by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiative in the form of financial assistance that covered office equipment, fencing, cosmetology room, extension to home economics room and the refurbishment of the Centre.
Mark Chang, along with his family and friends from Trinidad and Tobago, assisted tremendously with building materials and food items which supplied most of the students’ families and many others. The Calliste Catholic Men’s Group, through James Andrew, made contributions as well as Carlyle Glean who financed the painting of the outside of the building.
Through the influence of Mark Chang I was introduced to Bill Bronte, who provided much needed financial assistance to the Centre. Denis Mc Sween also assisted with additional materials. Here again I say thanks to all our local and foreign benefactors for assisting us to flourish again into a beautiful environment, safe and conducive to study, promoting tremendous achievement.
In academics, during my ten years at the Centre, we were blessed with successes, without forgetting that these were the same girls on whom society had given up on, and some had even given up on themselves.
They are now able to attend secondary schools. I want to thank Sir Reginald Palmer for his tremendous help in teaching the school-leavers, which resulted in high grades. I thank Sr Gabrielle Mason and Sr Maureen Alexander of St Joseph’s Convent as well as Daniel Thomas of Happy Hill Secondary School for their continued support in accommodating at least one student every year into their schools. I also thank the Ministries of Education and Social Services for their continuous support over the years.
Everyone mentioned above and many more have always been generous to the students by opening up their hearts and demonstrating continued interest in the well-being and development of these girls. I believe that every accomplishment starts with the right decision and I thank you all for supporting that dream.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud of these students, those who are still here as well as the others who have gone. I feel extremely overwhelmed to acknowledge that I have helped contribute towards some sort of development and success in their lives. These young ladies must be mindful that they are the light of the world, so also they must be light in their homes and communities.
I thank God for this and for the inspiration to go forth. I hope that they are mindful at all times of what I have always instilled in them – the power of prayers. There will be no progress if we have no faith in God or tomorrow. It is that faith that helps to keep me highly motivated.
Once again I thank all of you for joining us here today to celebrate our 10th anniversary and graduation. The challenges are many, however, with your continued support we will ensure that we continue to work along with our young ladies in ensuring that they never give up on their dreams.
Special thanks to our Prioress General Sr Petronella Joseph, O Carm and all our Sisters in Port of Spain and Grenada as well as further a-field for their strong and committed support. Thanks be to God for the wonderful work He has done.
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