Abraham receives gift from Mrs Savarin, wife of the President of Dominica
Abraham receives gift from Mrs Savarin, wife of the President of Dominica

Operation Youth Quake has a special mission— rescue troubled teens and help them get their lives back on track.

It is a phenomenally challenging task and Operation Youth Quake needs all the help it can get, especially at Christmas time.

Throughout the year, individuals, families, businesses, charitable organisations and the state help the organisation in one way or another.

This help is particularly important at Christmas because it is the season when the vulnerable youths at the centre tend to be painfully aware of what has gone wrong in their lives.

Thankfully, in true Christmas spirit many businesses, organisations and individuals have rallied round Opertaion Youth Quake at this time, making vital contributions to brighten the youths' lives.

Director of the operation, Lennox Abraham said President Charles Savarin of Dominica paid an early visit to Operation Youth Quake where he spent some time interacting with the teens.

The President also donated $3,000 to the operation from the President's Charity Fund, which has supported the institution with an annual donation for several years now.

Abraham also noted that the Upper Room 29 Prayer Group has been faithful in its commitment to bringing cheer to the children at Christmas.

The children have been enjoying treats and gifts provided by Upper Room 29 every Christmas for over 10 years now.

"So for them, they have lots of very good times during that period," Abraham said.

Moreover, a few kind-hearted families open their doors and allow some of the young residents to spend Christmas with them.

"We believe that young people like these should not really remain in an institution at Christmas, Easter and these periods of time.

"So we try our utmost to get all of them out to families…who are willing to have them to spend Christmas with them," Abraham explained.

He added, "Institutions are here to help young people, but I don't think institutions should take the role of families."

Over the last five years, the management has been successful in its bid to find families willing to take in the teens for Christmas.

Often, relatives, friends or concerned persons rise to the occasion, Abraham said.

           ####  Quick Facts

Concerned citizens established Operation Youth Quake in 1978.

Originally, it was meant as an institution for boys as an alternative to prison, as well as a rescue and rehabilitation facility for those who were physically and emotionally deprived.

Since then, Operation Youth Quake has expanded its mandate to include girls while it also caters for vulnerable children who need extra care and protection.

The institution, at that time, offered a daycare centre, a meals programme, fostering unit and short-term care.

Today, with a staff of 11, the institution offers short-term residential care for children/teens who are considered hard to place in the foster system and who need a nurturing environment.

"We call here a short residential care institution, but sometimes it doesn't work because . . . it is difficult to get families to take them in, because of their age," Abraham pointed out.

The institution also offers a day care service for children who need to be in a protective environment after school hours.

At the moment, the institution is home to 11 children: nine males and two females ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old.

Most of the teens attend school or programmes recommended by the courts.

Further, the institution offers reading, writing, farming, cooking, baking and social skills programmes.

In terms of farming, the Abraham said the institution's policy is to eat what is grown and sell the surplus.

                     #### Egg Production

One of the biggest success stories of Operation Youth Quake is a thriving egg production operation with over 225 chickens.

Expanded through funding from the Australian Aid Fund, the egg project has grown into a significant income generator.

"We were doing so well at it that we said we should increase the number of chickens . . . they have agreed to fund it . . . that is a big plus for us . . . we can increase our egg production," Abraham said.

Operation Youth Quake supplies eggs to several supermarkets and other businesses, as well as individuals.

The children play their part in the operation by helping to collect the eggs and prepare them for customers, Abraham said.

With a part-time farmer on staff, the institution plants some of its own produce and the children chip in to help on the farm during the school holidays.

Abraham said Operation Youth Quake strives to teach the children basic social and other skills to equip them to go out into the world on their own.

They learn how to cook, wash and are required to do chores around the yard. #### Funding

Operation Youth Quake mainly survives through donations from benefactors plus the proceeds of its farming programme.

Additionally, Government gives Operation Youth Quake a monthly grant to pay staff salaries, Abraham said.

Concerned citizens and local and international businesses also contribute to the upkeep of Operation Youth Quake.

Major contributors include Beatrice & Laing Trust Fund of England, and Beverly Diekel via the Resource Foundation of America.

All are invited to get on board to help Operation Youth Quake protect and nurture Dominica's most precious resource— it's youth.