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
"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."