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Smiles returning on the faces of children- Stacey 'Buddha' Mather

Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) was a safe haven for children following the passage of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. Photo: VINO
Stacy 'Buddha' Mather, Executive Director for Youth Empowerment Project stated that following the passage of Hurricane Irma, he had to reopen to give the children some sort of normalcy and an outlet for them to express themselves. Photo: YEP
Stacy 'Buddha' Mather, Executive Director for Youth Empowerment Project stated that following the passage of Hurricane Irma, he had to reopen to give the children some sort of normalcy and an outlet for them to express themselves. Photo: YEP
Despite the horrific experience of hurricane Irma, students at YEP are seen smiling and returning to normal. Photo: VINO
Despite the horrific experience of hurricane Irma, students at YEP are seen smiling and returning to normal. Photo: VINO
EAST END, Tortola, VI - Laughter and happiness have been filling the halls of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) two months after the passage of Hurricane Irma that severely damaged the building that houses YEP.

Damaged but not down

In a exclusive interview with Stacy 'Buddha' Mather, Executive Director at YEP, he revealed that YEP was badly damaged by the hurricane, adding that they were determined to get up and running.

He said, "We took a lot of damage. Our roof, basketball courts, resources inside, our computer lab almost all of it was totally damaged, so we try to get up and running as best we could. There were days when we were open in October where the roof was still leaking but we were open."

Mr Mather disclosed to our newsroom that YEP was to be closed for about three weeks because he was preparing to take a vacation.

Unfortunately, hurricane Irma made landfall before he could leave.

"After Irma, we were like we have to do something and we spent probably about the three weeks in September trying to clean up to get everything ready and we opened on October the first. So we’ve just been doing all day programming and we have been open on Saturdays too," said Mr Mather.

He further informed our news reporter that after YEP was operational he noticed that the children were returning to some level of normalcy.

"You could see them returning to normal and that’s what we have been trying to do, to see the smiles on their faces and the happiness is there and we are trying to do that with them as much as we can," expressed the Executive Director of YEP.

Mr Mather explained that they began the program with art and craft to allow the students to express themselves, adding that some of them were asked to paint what they thought hurricane Irma looked like.

In addition to art and craft, the students engaged in sports such as basketball, volleyball, dodgeball and even pool.

He then told our news reporter that they introduced Language Arts and Mathematics for the first time since 12 years.

He explained, "That was primarily done because we wanted them to start thinking about school as well to prepare them for when school opens."

Children still emotional after Hurricane Irma

As the students at YEP shared their hurricane Irma experiences with each other in a group session, it was evident that they were still affected by the ordeal.

Mr Mather stated that they waited at least three weeks before they did the group session.

"They were still emotional and there were children that were trembling when they were telling their stories. We had crying. The emotions are still there so there was a fear left when they think about what occurred," Stacy Mather.

He noted that some of the children have taken on the emotions of their parents while still trying to deal with their own.

Meanwhile, other children have stepped up and try to assist their friends by trying to make them feel better, according to Executive Director at YEP.

"For us we just wanted to do something which is what we have always done prior to Irma was provide activities for children so that they have something," said Mr Stacy Mather.

4 Responses to “Smiles returning on the faces of children- Stacey 'Buddha' Mather”

  • 123 (08/11/2017, 13:01) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    keep the good works up people
  • Anon (08/11/2017, 13:31) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Good Jon Stacy
  • Bastion Booger (08/11/2017, 19:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Brilliant work and dedication to the youths and community.
  • Shrink (09/11/2017, 15:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Thirteen years ago when this was just an idea you weren't sure if this was where you needed to be but this place has grown so much and done so much for people under your leadership...I know you don't need to hear it but it is truly an accomplishment to be proud of, Good Job.


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