Olympic record holder Usain Bolt has rushed to the aid of wards of the state who survived a fire that razed a children’s home this week.
He has donated J$1 million (US$8,056) through his Usain Bolt Foundation, to help the 34 displaced youths from the privately-run Walker’s Place of Safety.
Two girls – aged 12 and 16 – perished in the fire that broke out just before 11 p.m. on Monday night and the other residents and staff have been temporarily relocated to a nearby church.
In a release issued last night, chairperson of the Usain Bolt Foundation, Winsome Wilkins, said the world 100 and 200 metres record holder was moved by the tragedy at the home.
She added that the foundation, which is dedicated to the legacy of happy children and to enhance their educational and cultural development, was chosen by Bolt as the best vehicle through which he would show his support for those who have suffered. The foundation was established in 2011.
Preparations are now being made to have the donation handed over by Bolt early next week to the Child Development Agency (CDA).
The government has now identified alternative accommodation for the displaced children. State Minister in the Ministry of Youth, Floyd Green, said they will be housed in three homes across the Corporate Area.
Meantime, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that his government is to review the policies and procedures surrounding the management of childcare facilities.
He visited the site of the deadly fire yesterday, accompanied by his wife, Juliet, and Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green.
“When incidents like this happen, it triggers an administrative response to review what actually happened, whether or not the building was appropriate, whether or not we need to spend more resources, and to see whether or not there was negligence. Just to make sure…that the places of safety are actually safe places – and that’s the duty of the Government and, especially, the minister – I have asked the minister to undertake that review,” Holness said.
The prime minister said he was deeply saddened by the incident, adding that he was “shocked and very distressed” when he received the call about the fire and the subsequent deaths.
He commended Member of Parliament for the area and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips for his suggestion that a fund be established to rebuild the facility.
“I will contribute to that fund in the spirit of serving our children, and I encourage all Jamaicans to contribute. Let’s rebuild in honour of the two lives that, unfortunately, were lost,” Holness said.
Walker’s Place of Safety served as a transitional residence for children who had been abandoned or removed from their homes because of unstable conditions.