Armadale survivor anxious to get compensation
Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison is pleading for patience in light of the recent victory of six Armadale survivors who were awarded $20 million on Monday.
"We know life after Armadale has been hard, which is why we are pursuing the courts to get monies on their behalf. But the Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA) doesn't control the schedule of the court. We only control the dates we can get in terms of having a hearing set," she told THE STAR as she spoke about the Armadale survivors, who are awaiting compensation.
On Monday, it was announced that an award of more than $20 million in damages had been made to six girls who were housed at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre, which was destroyed by fire on May 22, 2009. Seven girls perished in the fire at the juvenile correctional facility, which is located in Alexandria, St Ann.
Renae Richards, who was only 14 years old at the time of the fire, told THE STAR that she had not been contacted by the OCA in two years.
"I am one of the girls that were in the office dorm when the fire broke out and I escaped through the window. I have been through court and couple meeting with some children's advocate people. I haven't heard anything since then, but my grandmother called me and told me that she saw in the newspaper where six girls were qualified to get recompensed," she said.
She told THE STAR that the process had begun, but after a couple of meetings, she was left out of the loop and she would like to reconnect with the OCA.
LIFE AT A STANDSTILL
Richards said that since the tragedy, her life has been at a standstill and that getting compensated would turn things around.
"I'm not doing anything, really. My mother have a shop and I'm there helping her, so mi would a glad if them compensate me. It would a help a lot of wi. They promised that they would try to help us get jobs and nothing. I'm 22 years now," she said.
Gordon Harrison, however, said no one has been kept out of the loop and that she is dedicated to the remaining cases.
"We are now looking at the remaining cases, and they will be apprised - as we have been doing over the past six years. A total of 11 Armadale survivors have received judgement. We cannot bulldoze the case and force a judge to try 30 cases at once, so we couldn't have done everybody at the same time. I don't anticipate much difficulty going forward because of what we call the 'consolidated test cases', which were successful on Monday. We expect the other cases to follow suit," she said.
In addition to monetary compensation, Gordon Harrison said her office has also helped some of the survivors to get medical treatment overseas.