A specialized home for kids with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s syndrome and attention deficit disorder (ADD) has reopened in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia.
The home, which is managed by Mrs. Charlesetta N. Williams, chief executive officer (CEO) of Health Page Liberia, Inc., was first operated from 18 Street, Sinkor before it was closed.
The home, which was known then as “First Start” when it operated in Sinkor, has now added a daycare component for some of the kids, all of whom are “first starters” in formal education.
According to Mrs. Williams, whose Health Page has airlifted many Liberian children in need of specialized medical treatment to various countries in the world for the past nine years, opening an institution like the First Start Academy and the specialized home along with the daycare, has always been a dream of hers.
“My dream to have a center for children with autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and other conditions has come true,” she stated.
Mrs. Williams told guests attending the reopening program for the center yesterday that she has single-handedly worked tirelessly towards laying a foundation for children who cannot lay one down for themselves. She also stated that she had fasted for 21 days asking God to help her get restarted with the home for the kids.
She assured everyone present that the staff and administration of the home would do all within their power to defend special needs children since most of them lack the ability to defend themselves.
Funding such a home is a challenge in Liberia, and Mrs. Williams has vowed not to give up in her quest to pursue further aid for the children. “Funding is an issue. We have a lot to achieve, but we will continue to work with the challenges. I will continue to serve our children,” she concluded.
As she listed her needs to keep the home up and running, including paying salaries, Mrs. Williams told the Daily Observer that the home needs at least US$70,000 annually to support the 24 physically challenged kids in the home.
As she thanked institutions and people for their support, she told the public that all of her efforts in establishing such an academy can be credited to her birth children, Dr. Clarice Ford-Kulah, and others, some of whom reside in the USA.
Speaking earlier, Mrs. Esther Grant, Director of Rehabilitation, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, assured the Health Page CEO of government’s support to the children of Liberia. Mrs. Grant said there are more than 200 Liberian children with such medical conditions and noted that the new home was too small to host all of them. She promised to work along with the home’s managers in order to find a bigger space that will host at least 50 children.
She nevertheless expressed happiness that children with such conditions can now have a place where they are able to learn and be cared for.
Former Education Minister Dr. Joseph D. Z. Korto, cut the ribbon to formally open the new home.