50 displaced new and expectant mothers feted at Sunset Shores Hotel
What was initially intended to be a passion project to help a single expectant mother displaced by La Soufriere’s explosive eruptions, turned into two baby shower events for 50 new and expectant mothers.
La Toya DeRoche-John and a team of other volunteers who dubbed themselves “the other baby mamas” held two events at Sunset Shores hotel on Monday, May 17, during which the displaced mothers were gifted with goodies valued at over $50,000.
“I went to deliver some food packages to people who were displaced. One of the persons who messaged me was Mary-Ann Nero from Sandy Bay, and she asked me for some fruit in addition to the food. I thought it was an interesting request, but I packed up the fruits and I took them to her, along with the food stuff and she explained to me that she was eight and a half months pregnant; didn’t get to grab much stuff; a little frustrated about her disposition. She was very pleasant…” De Roche-John explained to SEARCHLIGHT this week.
De Roche, a graduate teacher at the Girls’ High School said she went to sleep that night and woke up thinking about how many other displaced mothers like Mary Ann were there. And then she put her plan into action.
“I sent out a Facebook post and I asked for expectant mothers to message me….The post was shared over 400 times and the ones who responded were the ones who received the packages,” she said, adding that the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment also added names to the list.
Included in the packages for the babies were a playpen/crib, baby bath tub, 84 disposable diapers, blankets, fleece, wipes, baby powder, baby wash, rattles, hats and mittens, onesies, vests, formula, socks, pacifiers, baby manicure set and baby bibs.
The mothers were not left out.
They were also gifted with a number of items including towels, maternity pads/underwear, nighties, Epsom salts, breast pads, nipple cream, sheets, baby detergent, baby fabric softener, buckets and mosquito nets.
“I think mentally, I wanted to ensure that they were okay and to give them an ease up from all the stress of La Soufriere volcano. That is why the event was created. We could’ve just done the packages and handed them out, but we had a real baby shower with the cake and the gifts, photo booth, everything that you would have in a real baby shower and that was to take care of their mental health and the mommies and daddies really enjoyed it. I think they felt the love, they felt concern. It was done keeping their dignity intact,” De Roche-John said.
Health and safety was also an important aspect of the event as mothers had to be tested for COVID19 if they were to attend the baby shower. Once they provided proof of that negative test, mothers were issued invitations, which they used to enter the event on Monday night.
Anyone accompanying the guests of honour also had to be tested for COVID19.
In addition to the presents distributed at the baby showers, mothers also had the opportunity to win exciting prizes through fun games.
They also engaged in a session on breastfeeding and the unborn babies received a blessing from Fr Colin of the Roman Catholic Church.
De Roche expressed gratitude to her team, “the other baby mamas”, who helped to bring the event to life. These persons include Deri Dickson, owner of Polished Beauty Clinic; Donna-May Providence, manager at Demerara Mutual Life Insurance; lawyer, Vynnette Frederick and medical doctor, Dr Julia Akcayli.
Akcayli, whose father is the honorary consul of Germany in St Vincent and the Grenadines, was able to reach out to the counterpart in St Lucia, who facilitated the donation of 38 cribs and other items for both babies and mothers.
De Roche also thanked a long list of other persons and entities who were able to contribute to the event.
These are Sunset Shores, Ikarmola LaBorde, The Lions Club, Gale Branch, Simone Cambridge, The SVG UK Nottingham Committee, Stacey Williams and Family, Neisha Lestrade Haralson, Philomen De Roche Allen, Casynella Ollivierre-Cyrus, Shafia London, Herman and Yvonne Moses- Grant and JB Frederick and Associates.
Special thanks were also extended to Rodney Small, Darron Andrews and Marc Richardson for sound and entertainment.