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Our Institutions - Nazareth Halfway Facility

THE STAFF

Judy Nimblett, facility Manager from 1990 to 1994, remembers what it was like in earlier times. A vivacious mother of three, she spoke animatedly about what it was like trying to re-socialize residents by taking them to Carnival shows and the like. "It was something else. If there were seven of them, all seven would walk behind me, in a straight line, serious and unsmiling, looking neither right nor left." She relates that many residents came lacking the most basic of social skills.

Some did not even know how to sleep on a bed or even how to clean themselves.

In spite of these problems, she gives the residents much credit for their own improvement. "We have to understand that it takes a tremendous amount of work just to move from the streets, to St. Ann 's, to the Half-Way house."

This is a fragile accomplishment however as months, even years of work can be easily undone. "Change takes a long time and it is very easy for them to return to the streets. To call someone a madman can undo all that work in seconds."

Present Manager of the facility is Albert Hudson. Himself a father and grandfather, Hudson has established an easy rapport with residents, some of whom call him "Daddy".

He says that living at the Half-Way house has taught him that these men are regular human beings with special problems. His management style is very easy-going. "I believe in allowing people to solve their own problems."

Over time, he has developed a keen awareness of the problems that inhibit the rehabilitation process. Substance abuse he says, poses particular difficulties. The area of Port-of-Spain in which the centre is located may be described by some as "drug-infested".

Gesturing towards the Dry River , he says "the drugs are all around them. They just have to go in the back to get them." Though it is not a regular occurrence, stealing can also be a problem. Hudson explains that St. Ann 's, the jail and the streets each have their own culture.

In these places, from which the residents originate, what we may consider as stealing would be called borrowing. As an example of the different culture out of which the residents emerge, he also pointed to the fact that almost all the residents are addicted to cigarettes and caffeine which he says is part of the St. Ann 's culture.

Speaking of residents' families, Hudson expressed sympathy with all those faced with the anguish of dealing with mental illness. Nevertheless, even family members can act as obstacles on the road to recovery.

"When they are sick, no one comes to see them" he says, "But as soon as they are well and making a little money, they re-appear and some of the men would start spending their savings on this relative or that relative." In the face of it all however, Hudson feels that the centre has done well, given all the constraints and impediments with which it is faced.

SUMMARY

Overall, the success of the facility has been moderate - if one wishes to judge strictly by statistics. Since 1989, 112 men have passed through the Half-way house. Of these 26 men or 23% have been confirmed as either living independently or living with their families. A smaller number, 17 persons or 15%, have returned to the streets.

The real success perhaps, is to be measured in the depth of commitment in the staff and in the level of communion between staff and residents. The success is seen in the recognition of the basic humanity of the mentally ill. The Body of Christ has many parts and the mentally ill also have their role to play. They show us perhaps, the other face of God who identifies with those in need.

So too, in the lives of those who work with the mentally ill, and those who in the public and political arenas, fight for their betterment. The love of Jesus, friend of the poor and the sick, is made manifest. May the Lord continue to provide us with such examples.

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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
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