Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Life after Ranfurly

Former Ranfurly Homes’ resident adjusts focus
Photos: Shantique Longley

Life changed for Edneka Farquharson at the age of 13. First, she was taken from her mother and placed with her grandmother, only to eventually land in the Ranfurly Homes for Children.

As a resident of the home, she regularly attended St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk and then occasionally after having to leave the home upon graduating from high school in 2014.  Since then, the 20-year-old has worked at several companies including Bahamar, Solomon’s and Unique Vacations – none lasting more than a few months.

Little did Edneka know, this summer she would experience a breakthrough with the “opportunity of a lifetime.” She became one of five recipients of the Kirk-Ranfurly scholarship fund, which aids transitioning or former students of the Ranfurly Homes for Children to attend the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI). She is now studying Information Technology Entry Level. The others include: Marcel Presume, Massage Therapy;  Shaquille Williams, Office Assistant; Raynard Francois, Electrical Installation and Rasharme Wallace, Media Technology.

The brainchild of BTVI’s president, Dr. Robert W. Robertson, the fund is spearheaded by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk – where current residents worship – with the assistance of corporate Bahamas.

“I wanted to return to school. I prayed about it and then I learned about the scholarship. I wondered, ‘Is this for real?’ I am really thankful for every good thing that has happened.  I’m not going to waste these people’s scholarship money.  They didn’t have to do it,” said the grateful young woman, who has the word ohana - Arabic for family - tatooed on her right wrist, while on her left hand is ‘Christ alone’ in Hebrew.

“Everything about BTVI is because of the Kirk. The Kirk is an awesome church. I really love the Kirk. It feels like family. Everyone is so nice; they made us feel we could live a normal life. They made us feel a part of them,” said the Information Technology Management student.

Edneka has since returned to her grandmother’s home, two months after graduating high school. While life is still not perfect, she has adopted the attitude that it is her perspective that makes a difference.

“When I came out of the home, I had to put the pieces together. I don’t have time playing the victim.  I am now creating what I want,” she stated.

Edneka spoke highly of the Ranfurly Homes for Children, her safe haven for three years.

“They’re like my family. The caregivers were like mothers. We lived normally, doing chores. It was good treatment at the house. We use to go to Kids Crush at Atlantis, the water park, movies, and the beach.  I did modeling at Yodephy. Every weekend was fast food. We had tutors at our disposal. They tried to make it as normal as possible for us” said the former resident.

“If we did something wrong, we got punished like any other parent punishing a child,” she added.

Ranfurly’s administrator, Alexander Roberts’s hope is that the scholarship recipients go on to make stellar contributions to society.

“Thanks to the Kirk, BTVI and other partners, you are addressing the needs of society.  With a good education and a good attitude, doors will open, making for a better society,” said Mr. Roberts.

Dr. Robertson said BTVI sees the Kirk as advocates, joining the fight for the recipients’ future.

“Their lives are more tenuous because of their circumstances.  However, we are grateful that Reverend McPhail and his congregation understand that education is the great equalizer.  It is no secret that one has a better chance at succeeding in life with access to a good education,” said Dr. Robertson.

While expressing gratitude for the generous contributions to the fund from members and the wider community, Kirk Reverend Bryn McPhail, said the impetus for the scholarship fund is because the Kirk cares about the youth at the homes.

“We want to build into their lives not only spiritually, but help them along in life,” he said.

Meanwhile, Edneka has learned to see the glass as half full as opposed to half empty.

“I questioned why my life was in shambles, but I realized it wasn’t forever. You must have tough skin in this world. I believe it may be raining now, but after the showers, there is sunshine. It’s kind of tough being out here in the real world, but I’ve learned to make the best of situations,” said the optimistic young woman.

Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute