MRS FORD. A MOTHER
I’ve known Mrs Ford for the past eight (8) years, when I first set foot at the St. Lucia Crisis Centre. I was warmly welcome by Mrs. Ford who patiently listen to every word and also making note, as we go along. She was of a humble character who always encourage, and prayed with her clients. Those words was never short from her mouth. God will take care of us. God’s able, don’t give up. You’ve come the right place. I’ve known Mrs Forde to be one who would cry with her clients. She is one who gave hope to the many one was sheltered by her warmth and patience. I personally benefitted from the Centre which was headed by Mrs Ford and her delicated staff, who worked timelessly to keep the Centre going. And I believe I can speak for all members of the St. Lucia Crisis Centre. I received counciling for both myself and my children being a single mother. Support was provided by the Centre including a parent support Group which meet monthly to discuss matters which affected, and wasy in which we could help each other. They also kept our children in check, they provided bus fare for those who was not able and food. Guardance Workshops were available and is still now. So we could better our skills as parents also financiall workshops, so we could better spend the little that we earned, and save. We the members of the group were encourage to be strong, our self esteem was lifted up. She wAs a shelter in the times of storms situation and problems. this wonderful flower hwas faded away from this world but she will bloom in the fathers heavenly home. She is gone but will never be forgotten. Her memories will always live on.
Our Heartfelt Condolences
Members of St. Lucia Crisis Centre
May her soul rest in peace
TRIBUTE TO MRS. IONE ERLINGER-FORD FOUNDER OF THE
SAINT LUCIA CRISIS CENTRE
From: Rumelia Dalphinis-King, Director, Family Court
Mrs. Ione Erlinger-Ford was a larger than life woman on whose shoulders many women and children who were victims of domestic abuse and sexual abuse leaned. She became a vessel into which the vulnerable victims of domestic abuse, victims of sexual abuse and their plight poured stories of distress, feeling of isolation and hopelessness into. With these stories Mrs. Ford’s commitment bloomed into unyielding advocacy for institutional and legislative changes for protection of victims. She became an irrepressible, effective champion and social activist for the rights of women and children. She advocated and addressed various issues pertaining to women that went beyond a secure place for victims. Mrs. Ford continued campaigning and advocacy lead to the enactment of the Domestic Violence legislation in 1995 as well as the Family Court Act of 1994, culminating in the establishment of the Family Court in 1997. Her vision has become a legacy through which the Saint Lucia family continues to benefit, and for those of us who came after to emulate and carry on her good work. The Family Court salutes this pioneering woman, a true champion of women and children.
Tribute to Mrs. Ione Erlinger Ford
by LAWRENCE M.P. LAURENT
Today, women are holding some of the highest positions in the land and there is no longer a disparity among the sexes when it relates to the work force. A few decades ago an attempt was made to enshrine inequality among the sexes in the work force in the proposed Labour Code, but this was thwarted by a group of determined ladies led by the indomitable ATS Sergeant-at-Arms and President of the Business and Professional Women’s Club – Mrs. Ione Erlinger-Ford. Their strong intervention caused the recognition of women as equal partners at all levels in the work place and the relegation of the Code back to the drafting table. The activities of the Club under the leadership of Mrs. Ione Erlinger-Ford was centered around the empowerment of women and the upliftment and the education of the marginalized e.g. the establishment of the Upton Gardens Girls Centre. Her desire to find solutions to the problems facing abused and battered women, led to the conceptualization of the St. Lucia Crisis Centre. I was approached for assistance from UNESCO and I managed to obtain seed money for the purchase of equipment and the implementation of a training workshop. In 1984, at a meeting held in Washington with the Ambassador
to the OAS – Dr. Edsel Edmunds – and the Head of the Partners of America; a decision was taken to provide hands on training by another agency for the creation of the Centre. Undaunted by the tasks ahead, Mrs. Ford mobilized the community to recognize the dangers of domestic violence and the role which we could each play in helping to mitigate its effects. Under her strong leadership and guidance several groups and agencies have emerged to help combat this scourge; among them the Family Court and the Women’s Shelter. I was privileged to work with this lady of vision whom I admired as a business woman (hotelier), an ATS Sergeant-at-Arms in her khaki uniform, a mobilize at the helm of the Business and Professional Women’s Club and a collaborator at the Crisis Centre. She will be sorely missed. May she rest in peace. My sympathy and that of my family goes out to her family and all those who have benefitted from her stewardship.
Tribute to Mrs. Ione Erlinger-Ford
by RUFINA PAUL
President of the St. Lucia Crisis Center (January 2001 – March 2004)
Driven by her determination to break down institutional barriers to the protection and advancement of women in our society; Mrs. Ford refused to quit and she did all that she could to access the resources to get the job done. Ione has done her part – her way – and she realised many of her dreams in her lifetime. She was a trail blazer and her legacy as an outstanding St. Lucian woman lives on. She has left us the job of harnessing our collective resources in a manner whereby our uniqueness becomes an asset; rather than an impediment to the cause. We have a choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
TRIBUTE TO Ione Erlinger-Ford
My best recollection of Mrs. Ione Erlinger-Ford’s acquaintance was in her capacity as a champion for ‘Women’s Rights’ particularly in relation to Domestic Violence. It was in the decade of the 80’s, when the Women’s Movement was at its peak in keeping with a U.N. Declaration of a decade for the advancement of women. St. Lucia, too, had joined the fray with a few professional women who had left their comfort zones to join the buzz with a view to ensure a better life for women in St. Lucia. Leading the team of advocates at the NGO level was one distinguishable figure – Ione Erlinger- Ford, a formidable woman, resolute in her mission that St. Lucian women, in their multiple roles as mothers, spouses, single heads of households, nurturers, caregivers/providers and workers needed a better deal from
their life of spousal abuse, without any recourse whatsoever. By then (1986) the Women’s National Machinery known as the Women’s
Desk, was established and as it’s head, we first crossed paths. I was not privy to her suffering during her illness but ‘newsflash’ indicated that she was well cared for and loved by a family which she cherished throughout her waking life. To them I extend my heartfelt condolences and may they find comfort in her struggles and the accomplishments that ensued. In retrospect, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for having witnessed that part of her journey when she stirred off- course and stood-up as a ‘voice’ for women in their predicament. She presented herself as a no-nonsense woman, un-afraid, ready to take on the entire society where Domestic Violence was rife, but considered a private matter at the domestic level – it was just nobody’s business how a man chose to chastise his wife/partner.
Because of her brazenness some viewed her as a nuisance, a pest; to others burdensome, but she was unperturbed, not deterred or intimidated by any means, even occasionally, when she seemed like a “lone voice crying out in the wilderness”. She challenged the status quo; she had a mission to fulfill, and was adamant in her quest for change in the plight of women. She kept her watch on the movements of the Women’s Desk; she remained its ‘Shadow’, using it as her blueprint. She attended every activity, and participated in every forum as a means of making her message heard. Remarkably, it was not a case of just ‘talking the talk’ but she also walked the talk, where she heard the complaint from a large number of women themselves in face-to-face consultations during field trips and home visits which emanated from an Outreach Programme organized by the Desk. During a 3-month period, Mrs. Ford left the comfort of her home and family every Sunday on community visits where we met the women, especially grass-roots women, after the morning Church Services to engage them
with their concerns for change. By the end of the activity, twenty-two (22) communities covering the length and breadth of St. Lucia were visited. There were many concerns but the most troubling ones were domestic abuse from partners, incest and child support. So she walked the talk and continued to agitate for change. The women too, were clamouring for help while they lamented their ordeal in the struggle for a better life for themselves and their respective families, but had no voice then, in national affairs and no source to seek redress. Mrs. Ford was relentless in her quest to bring about change. Coming out of a Canadian culture, she was appalled that the ‘Maintenance’ fee for illegitimate children was then, $2.00 weekly. Yet, sadly enough, there were so many delinquent fathers, while the single mothers struggled with the attendant issues which often resulted in abuse in all its forms (sexual, emotional/ psychological) that accompanied attempts to seek child support. To date, the tariff has been increased but the problem still persists. Some men are negligible in their obligation to support their children and are reluctant to pay their dues. It must be noted that subject’s constant outcry of the injustices that women face, and the gender imbalance within the society was a source of strength and gave women a sense of hope that someone cared. Her voice resonated not only in St. Lucia but also at the Regional and International levels whenever she was given an opportunity to represent St. Lucian women. It was certain that she would not be in silent mode at such foras. For example, I recall how estatic she was as one of the members of a delegate who attended the Refinement of the UN Declaration on the Eradication of Domestic Violence Against Women, hosted by the Inter-American Commission of Women, headquartered in Washington, D.C. (1993). Do you think she kept quiet? Not in the least which reminds me that she enjoyed a good sense of humour and we were able to laugh at her own rhetoric sometimes. No doubt, her efforts were not in vain; while the gender imbalances were still sidelined, through the joint efforts of some other dedicated women we were able to accomplish the following:
1. The Establishment of the Crisis Centre in 1988
2. A Domestic Violence Act (1995)
3. The Attachment of Earnings (for maintenance purposes -1996)
4. The Establishment of A Family Court (1997)
5. The Establishment of a Shelter for Abused Women and their Children
These facilities and legal instruments, viewed as milestones for Women, did not come easily but through the advocacy and persistence of a few women, like her who were driven to bring about a change in the status quo, at a time when women’s efforts in national development were not considered and their contribution remained unaccounted for. On the other hand, while these may be considered inadequate by today’s standards, they continue to serve in providing some measure of redress for victims. Today we gather to celebrate her life as a legend of her time, someone who made her mark and carved a better life for women. Women are in some ways better off in the sense that there is more public awareness and sensitivity to the related problems. They have more and better access to education and opportunities to achieve their goals to their fullest potentiall – all through the efforts of visionary women like Mrs. Ford. I think it’s up to those who follow in her footsteps to build on her legacy, ensure support for each other as sisters in the struggle to end domestic violence, adopt a zero
tolerance for violence at all levels of the society and move forward from strength to strength towards an equitable society with a brighter future for generations to come. On behalf of all women I Salute You! and pray that having lived a purposeful life with fortitude and courage your summons to the Lord’s call will be reflected in the verse: Come to me all ye who labored and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Farewell Ione, Eternal rest in perfect peace !
1st. Head, National Machinery for the Integration/Advancement of Women
Mrs Ione Erlinger Ford was a very kind, helpful, loving and generous individual. She has helped me in many different ways. She introduced me to the St. Lucia Crisis Center. Over the years they have helped me out financially, spiritually and socially in which it has made a big difference in my life. Because of the Crisis Centre my children has a place at the Crisis Centre where they can come and Staff can give the good advice. Thanks to Mrs. Ione Erlinger Ford for what she has done for me of these years. I greatly appreciate it.
I have a very memorable moments with my involvement as Vice President at St. Lucia Crisis Centre when Mrs Ford was the President of the Crisis Centre during the year 1997 and 1998. She was fully committed with tireless service at the Crisis Centre. We were fortunate to serve under her leadership at the Crisis Centre and will be remembered for many, many years.
Dr. R.G. Swamy MBBS MD(psych)
As the SLCC prepares to celebrate our 25th anniversary in October, we wish to recognize the remarkable contributions made by the pioneer Mrs. Ford, in breaking down the barriers in dealing with the issues of gender based violence. Through her sustained, passionate advocacy, the SLCC was birthed, and achievements were made through the enactment of Domestic Violence legislation,the establishment of the Family Court and the subsequent establishment of a shelter for women and children . The SLCC family pays tribute to this phenomenal woman who “broke the glass ceiling”.
Juliana Alfred, President, SLCC
The Crisis Centre helped me to send my grandson to pre-school. I appreciate the help I received for the Centre. It was a good help for me.
Celia Henry, Grandparent, Ciceron
“Salutations to a phenomenal Woman” We will be gate keepers of her legacy
By: Lorraine Williams
Ione Erlinger- Ford was a woman of extraordinary capacity and a true daughter of the soil. She was courageous, tireless and fearless in her advocacy of women’s rights, and Domestic abuse of women and children. She was a force for change and although some had difficulty with her sharp tongue and iron demeanour, no one could deny her sense of Humanity and compassion for the abused and disadvantaged in our society. And it was that personality and unwavering commitment to social and economic justice for all especially women, which drew people to her. When it came to the battle for women’s rights, her motives were pure and genuine, as they came from deep within her core .For while she was warm and generous, she was feisty and stubborn, yet she was a unique spirit who was greatly loved and will be missed by her family, friends and colleagues alike. Ione was a strong and passionate supporter of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs which I then had the privilege to lead, and we gave unconditional support to the Crisis Centre and it’s mandate when she was President. It was that mutual support and strong advocacy which enabled the Ministry to introduce in Parliament — The Family Court Act, The Domestic Violence
Prevention Act, The Affiliation Amendment Act and the eventual establishment of the Family Court and the Shelter for abused Women.
I will forever be grateful for the honor and privilege of having known Mrs. Ford, and although we mourn her passing, we must celebrate this Iconic Woman’s life. In her honor, we need to carry on the work of the Crisis Centre, In her honor we need to carry on in her determined spirit to create a more humane and compassionate society for all. Let her spirit live forever in our hearts and minds, and may she rest in
By: Constance-Ann Paul-Akuffo , Past President 2004-2008.
Mrs. Ford’s persistence was most remarkable and she was determined to help women who were being abused, and their children. Her life mission helped create not only refuge for those facing the issue; in addition creating a steady purse to ensure that the Crisis Center continued to function and gave root to much needed support services and a first point of call for many in need of said services. We continue her fight against and are eternally grateful for the caring and courage it took to do so much for so many and for the legacy of love and purpose she leaves behind. Mrs Ford, we were honoured to be part of your efforts to end Domestic Violence and the many volunteers, board members, business partners and fundraisers continue to work towards changing lives for the clients and community on the whole.
May you rest in perfect peace.
Mrs. Ione Erlinger Ford will be remembered for her determined efforts to place in the consciousness of St. Lucian men and women the necessity to always condemn and stamp out domestic violence in our country. The Saint Lucia Crisis Centre will remain a testament to her efforts.
Former Vice President (Attorney at Law/ Mayor of Castries)
AN ODE TO A STRONG WOMAN
What can i say that can capture or capsulate the
essence of this strong woman?
The creator made you for a reason,
and now he has taken you for a reason.
You were the first guardian of youth, women and girls.
You fought hard and tirelessly for women and girls and
You stood tall (though short in stature )and proud, you
rebuked the evils of abuse, you challenged justice so
maintenance would increase. You walked, talked to find
shelter for battered women, you stayed in your office
late(with me as security) with women who were hurting,
battered, wounded, suicidal and scared; children who
were physically and sexually abused and too old for
the Ciceron Children’s’ Home, until you found a home for
them, even if it meant placing them at St. Lucy’s home for
You were stomped with criticism, not wanting change but
you were a trailblazer, You had a mind of your own, you
were committed, a humanist, you believed in the value of
people, their right to food, clothing, shelter, education
You shared your wisdom with any one who sought your
advice or crossed your path in your quest for zero
tolerance for violence against women…Educators,
parents, Police Officers, Clubs, Workplaces and notable
Today you are dead, and i believe that you left with the
burdens and grief of many Women and girls you were not
able to relieve and hope that they will be As your
favourite line was “Always try to complete what you have started”
I know you will be welcome by many a good soul
Rest in perfect peace