Government Commended for ‘Charting’ New Horizon

SKNIS Photo 1: Ambassador Palmer symbolically hands over furniture and equipment

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 25, 2012 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has been commended by United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean His Excellency Larry L. Palmer for the development of the New Horizon Rehabilitation Centre.

Ambassador Palmer stated such when he officially handed over US$300,000 in furniture and equipment to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis for the mentioned Co-Ed Rehabilitation Centre on September 20, 2012. The funding was derived via the United States Southern Command and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The need to continue collaborative efforts was emphasized.

“Our work here in the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a partnership established between the Caribbean and the United States in 2010, helps to improve the safety of our shared region, through the promotion of social justice, justice-section reform and assistance to vulnerable populations,” Ambassador Palmer noted. “It is within this context specifically, that I want to commend the Prime Minister, Minister Liburd and the Government of St. Kits and Nevis for committing much needed resources to develop this youth, co-ed rehabilitation facility that will serve to protect vulnerable youth and offer a second chance to those who have run afoul of the law.”

SKNIS Photo 2: PM Douglas and Ambassador Palmer enter New Horizon

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development, Community Affairs, Gender Affairs and Culture, Sharon Rattan noted that the Rehabilitation Centre forms part of a larger child development project that was instituted in 2003.

“This building is just one of the main components of it [the initial child development project], which will house children who are in conflict with the law,” Ms. Rattan explained. “Here we expect to provide programmes, not only a place for them to live, but programmes that would provide the kind of counseling needed and the kind of reintegration services required for them to fit back into their communities. And this is why we are excited about it. It will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean.”

Minister responsible for Social Services and Community Development Honourable Marcella Liburd emphasized that the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is committed to preventative-intervention strategies rather than punishment-prosecutorial strategies. She noted that children’s background should be taken into consideration.

“We know all too well the stigmatizing and unforgiving manner, intolerance with which our children are treated without due consideration to the unstable home environments from which they come,” Minister Liburd emphasized.

SKNIS Photo 3: Invited guests traverse New Horizon’s Balcony

“Such environments open doors to dangerous and violent pathways for our young people and erode their options to positive choices. Instead it is a challenging task but an achievable one with creative and collaborative partners to effect attitudinal changes so woefully needed to welcome back the children who are in conflict with the law – to their families, to their communities and to their nation.”

Prime Minister the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas expressed gratitude to Ambassador Palmer noting that the Rehabilitation Centre was conceptualized seven or eight years ago while attending a Caribbean Development Bank Meeting. He noted that at that moment in time, the negative activities of at-risk youth had become more frequent.

“When there was the beginning onslaught [of youth-related crime] which took us some time to really understand,” Prime Minister Douglas recalled. “We came to the conclusion that we needed a centre, an institution of this kind to help bring our young people back – those who are at risk and who had gone astray and needed to be brought back home. And so it is really a journey – the journey is still continuing – the destination is still to be realized. No matter how long and arduous is this journey, once it has to do with the children, the young people, the soul of the nation – we have to continue on this journey, until that destination is arrived at.”

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