The programme is part of the philanthropic initiative of GTECH, which is a leading commercial operator and provider of technology in the regulated worldwide gaming market.
Today there are more than 235 After School Advantage Programmes worldwide that GTECH has adopted and supported. Twenty of these are here in the Caribbean in nations like Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, United States Virgin Islands and now St. Kitts has joined that elite group of countries with the installation of the newest center located at the St. Christopher Children’s Home in West Basseterre.
Here to launch the programme was the Account Development Manager for GTECH Antilles Lotteries, Brendan Hames, who told invited guests from the public and private sectors that this is something that is truly special for the residents of the St. Christopher Children’s Home.
“St. Christopher Children’s Home is a model institution for the welfare, education and personal development of those who have called it home,” stated Hames.
He proudly stated that they could not think of a more deserving partner to be benefitting from this initiative. The After School Programme is GTECH’s signature corporate social responsibility initiative. He said the company does this in a number of places throughout the world and when they find the right partners, who are usually non-profit agencies, they provide them with well-equipped computer centers geared towards children between the ages 5 and 18. “These are gifts that are intended to live on in the community for years to come,” said Hames to an audience that included the country’s Minister of Education, Nigel Carty and the Parliamentary representative for the area, Sam Condor.
The GTECH official said his company recognizes that a good education is the gateway to success and in the globalized world we live in today, a background in technology is extremely critical to help to boost individual marketability. This is partly why the After School Advantage Programme was conceived from the get go, he explained.
GTECH said it is convinced that their new partner will help drive the educational development of the children at the facility, which should seek to ensure that children from an early age are exposed to and taught technology applications and systems solutions.
GTECH is a technology company and Hames said, even if this only benefits one child then this gift of the new center would be an overwhelming success, especially if that child is finds a career path and acquires the tools to pursue a career that is in technology, if they do, said Hames, then he is convinced that it will also help to expand their minds and keep them off the street and out of trouble.
He said he shared the sentiments of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, that education is the most powerful weapon which could be used to change the world and GTECH is proud to play a small modest role in that change in St. Kitts.
The new library and computer lab has been equipped with six computers, 2 printers and a projector and screen, in addition to software programs.
Chairman of the St. Christopher Children’s Home and Service League, Sebatian Mottram, while thanking GTECH said that the seven children of the home, and those to come in the future, can now reach out to a global village with all the advantages that will be brought by the new computer center.
Mottram reminded that the “Home is non-governmental organization established in 1935 with a remit to care for needy children in the federation. The majority of the children are placed there by the Social Services who may be victims of abuse, neglect or those with parents who are unfortunately unable to care for them.”
The Chairman revealed that they try to provide a caring home as a sanctuary with facilities to help the children.
Funding he said comes mostly through private charity organizations and some government departments. He said though that their funding is precarious and adhoc and it is the miraculous and willing partnership of public and private sectors that has allowed their work to continue.
He indicated that since its inception, the home has matured and adapted, but unfortunately poverty, neglect and abuse still exist, and it seems the need for shelter that is provided there is still relevant today as it was 78 years ago when the home was founded.
But he said that what is radically different is the brave new world that we launch the children into and the technology we need to equip them to peak with their peers on a level playing field, when they leave us.
“With the help of the donation for the After School Advantage programme the home now has real tools to empower the children to reach out to the wider communities and to explore new possibilities,” stated a grateful chairman.