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Our Institutions - Cyril Ross Nursery

STAFF

The affairs of the home are managed by an eight-member board headed by Mrs. Gloria Henry. It is staffed by a team of 23 persons working three (3) shifts on a twenty-four hour basis and managed by Mrs. Hyacinth Cross.

One head attendant Jackie John worked as a geriatric nurse at the Finbar Ryan Home before joining the staff in September of 1994. An experienced mother with three children of her own, she spoke calmly and dispassionately about her work at the home.

She pointed out just how far the children had come and stated that what they tried to do was simply to give them proper nourishment and motherly love. This professional detachment is shaken however when she speaks about the deaths that have occurred since the home's inception.

"Christian was a child who never spoke and hardly ever smiled. When he came he had meningitis and so he needed extra care." She says "He was the first child I'd visit when I came to work everyday and it was painful since I was not there when he died" Though his death was a source of emotional upheaval for John and other staff members, it was at the same time a beautiful experience especially when shared with the children.

To ease Christian through the final moments of his short, tortured life staff and children gathered around his crib to sing and to pray. This experience of shared grief, faith and hope brought peace to the dying child and for the staff, eased the pain of his passing.

The children for their part showed no fear of death and could often be found playing around the crib of the dying infant, even speaking to him though he was unable to respond.

John admits that her social life has been put on hold since she began working at Cyril Ross but has no regrets. "It's an absorbing job" she says "One you have to give your time to, but I enjoy it."

Of the public she says that attitudes to the children are slowly changing. Visitors used to come to the home expecting the worst. "They came expecting to see children dying of AIDS and were always surprised to see them living with the virus!"

Amid the colourful clutter of the children's schoolroom an employee speaks of her five year stint at the home. "I had a happy childhood and I wanted to give these children all the opportunities that I had."

She relates that she found people raised in institutions were often too deeply marked by the experience and she hoped that her work would change that situation for these children. She also spoke of a friend raised in a children's home who had no photographs of himself as a child. "I would like the children to be able to say "I grew up in an institution, but I had everything that everyone had."

What motivates her is seeing improvement in the children, like seeing them learn to speak or watching them grow. She says "there comes a stage when you just get hooked on the children."

Speaking of her own experience of death at Cyril Ross: "you can never totally prepare yourself for death. The death of the first child was very traumatic but we were better prepared the second time." Yet she admits the thought of one of the children dying still scares her. Unsure of the extent of her own attachment to them, she is uncertain how she would cope.

"I know I love the children.. But I don't know just how much."

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Cyril Ross Nursery
Nazareth House
Nazareth Halfway Facility
Archbishop Finbar Ryan Geriatric Home
Audrey Mollineau House
Home for the Aged
San Fernando
The Society of St Vincent de Paul, Trinidad & Tobago, © 2005 - 2007 . Optimised for MSIE4+.
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