RAHEEM Powell’s situation is looking more hopeful after the Jamaica Observer highlighted the 17-year-old’s plight of not having a birth certificate, which kept him from going back to school after he dropped out at Grade 6.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green yesterday expressed interest in assisting Powell, through the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).
In addition to Minister Green, the Registrar General’s Department, Heart Trust/NTA and Observer readers have offered assistance to the struggling teenager.
Last Tuesday, Powell told the Observer that he had informed his mother on numerous occasions that he wanted to go back to school. His mother admitted in an interview that he had expressed her desire for some time now; however, she was unable to fulfil his wish.
“Yeah, he told me about it and I said, ‘Raheem, I am not working enough money to get the birth certificate; as soon as I get the money I will try to sort out the birth certificate’,” Douglas admitted.
“I want him to go back to school,” she said. “This make mi feel like I am a careless mother, like mi don’t care. But mi care about him still. Dem seh a late entry (late registration application) I have to look ’bout,” she said.
Yesterday, the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) contacted the Observer and pledged to assist Powell, who resides at Watson Grove in Gregory Park.
“We will be assisting Raheem; we have started the process — the late registration — and he will not have to pay. Where we have started is with the hospital where he would have been born and then we will take it from there,” RGD Marketing and Planning Manager Nicole White said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Sandra Bodden-Reid, head of customer care at the Heart Trust/NTA said the agency is also ready to assist the teenager. “We have made the relevant contact in our organisation and they are very enthusiastic about being a part of the solution,” she said.
Bodden explained that the agency would, however, have to conduct a diagnostic assessment to determine Powell’s reading and comprehension levels. Based on the assessment, she added, he would be placed in an appropriate programme he said he however could not go straight into the skill area of electronics. The youngster now assists electronic technician Andrew Tomlinson to repair fans and other electrical items at his workshop in Gregory Park, St Catherine.
“If he needs basic remedial work we will do that first,” Bodden-Reid said.
Observer reader Yvonne Patterson, who said she was moved by the article, said she wanted to help. “It really hit me hard,” Patterson said when she contacted the newspaper yesterday evening.
Patterson said she contacted the RGD immediately after reading the article, inquiring the cost for late registration.
“I said to myself that I was not going to let it pass and would ask three other persons to contribute and go with his mother and get him registered,” she said.
“It is nothing to look down on. The fact that he wants to learn now, we should assist him,” she added.
When the Observer told her that the RGD had already contacted the Observer to assist, she said, “Praise the Lord.”
Yesterday, Powell’s grateful mother Ann-Marie Douglas thanked the agencies and the people who have offered assistance. “I’m glad for the help for him,” she said.
By: Racquel Porter