St Lucia: Minister with responsibility for Gender Affairs, Dr Virginia Albert-Poyotte, paid a very special and long-awaited visit to the Upton Gardens Girls Centre last week Friday, June 17, 2022.
The minister was warmly received by the director. Jacqueline Massiah-Simeon, her staff and students.
The director took the opportunity to thoroughly brief Minister Albert-Poyotte on the accomplishments of the institution, coupled with their challenges and future aspirations. Massiah-Simeon explained that there is a need for increased awareness so that more young ladies can come forward to benefit from programmes on offer at the Upton Gardens Girls Center.
“We especially wanted Minister Poyotte to visit because we see this as supporting the development of women in Saint Lucia. What we really wanted to highlight was getting more information out there about the centre, and we thought that having ministerial support and talking about the centre in their constituency and sharing information would kind of expose the Centre to the wider population. We see the role of the centre as giving young Saint Lucian women a second chance at success; this is where we see ourselves situated, and so we wanted the minister to be able to spread this message for us,” she said.
Minister Albert-Poyotte, on her part, noted the many synergies that can be created between the Centre for girls and indicated that she was enthusiastic about partnering with them in an integrated approach.
“This institution is of great importance to me, as a woman and then as a minister with responsibility for Gender Affairs as well as Home Affairs. What I learned, having engaged the managing director, is that there is a need for greater collaboration in giving support to this institution. And I see the agencies that would play a major role would be Ministry of Education, Gender Affairs, Equity, Home Affairs and a few other agencies that could actually assist in making it a more viable institution.”
One of the success stories at the Centre is that of their greenhouse project, which incidentally produced a healthy harvest of bell peppers just in time for the minister to be presented which some as a token of appreciation for her visit and support of the mandate of the Upton Gardens Girls Centre.