Seventeen-year-old Jordan Logan was beaming with excitement as he observed the three zebras at the Hope Zoo. “Wow, I like them. They are really cool!” he exclaimed. Of all the animals he observed at the Hope Zoo on Saturday, the zebras and the reindeers were his favourites. It was the first time that this overjoyed teenager and many of his peers were visiting the Hope Zoo, thanks to Food For The Poor Angels of Hope Programme, which hosted a ‘Day of Celebration’ on Saturday, May 18.
This annual initiative was enjoyed by over 600 wards and their caregivers from 19 children’s homes islandwide.
The event took place at Hope Gardens and was chock full of fun, food, fellowship, sports and ‘edutainment.’ The children and their caregivers were treated to tours of the Hope Zoo, face painting, bounce-a-bout, sports competitions as well as rides on the ferris wheel, merry-go-round and mechanical bull. They also had the chance of practising their spelling and sketching skills in the Crayons Count Learning Lorry. Food For The Poor presented all the children with gifts.
“I entered the Lime and Spoon Competition and came fourth, but I enjoyed it,” Jordan shared in an interview.
Fifteen-year-old Shaneisha Clarke was thrilled by the monkeys, especially “Sponkey the Monkey” who tried to nibble her fingers: “I like the birds and everything I see at the Zoo. I also like watching the dancing contest,” Shaneisha remarked.
Twenty-one children’s homes, which fall under FFP Angels of Hope Programme were invited, but 19 participated in the event. They included: Maxfield Park Children’s Home, the Nest Children’s Home, St. Andrew Hostel for Girls, Jamaica National Children’s Home, Hanbury Home, Walker’s Place of Safety and Jamaica Christian Boy’s Home.
Through the ‘Day of Celebration’, Food For The Poor seeks to provide the wards of the children’s homes and their caregivers with a break from their regular routines, by creating a wide range of recreational opportunities in one location. Marcia Hall-Walker, Social Outreach Manager, FFP Jamaica, explains that the ‘Day of Celebration’ is a calendar event which most of the homes look forward to each year, with great enthusiasm. “The children love the opportunity to get away from their homes to meet other children their own age and to enjoy a fun-filled day of food, entertainment, games and fellowship.”
She said the FFP staff who volunteer to attend to the needs of the children on that day are motivated by the interaction they have with the children and their caregivers. “We look forward to planning this event for the children in children’s homes every year. They are like family to us and this is part of our way of assisting in a holistic approach to their development,” said Mrs. Hall-Walker. “The togetherness among the children is so awesome. The hugs and smiles of appreciation, which they give us, are so touching. The children are such an inspiration to us here at Food For The Poor.”
Nicholas Graham, Duty Officer, Summerfield Boys Home explained that the ‘Day of Celebration’ under the Food For The Poor Angels of Hope Programme, has made a significant difference in the lives of the children. Twenty-two youngsters from his home participated in the event. “ It’s really an enjoyable and learning experience for them. They enjoyed the interaction with the animals, as well as their rides on the mechanical bull, bounce-a-bout and other fun activities,” said Mr. Graham. “ It’s a great fun day and the exposure of the children to a different environment does them a world of good.”
Janet Paddyfoot, House Mother, Walker’s Place of Safety, commended Food For The Poor for the annual initiative in treating the wards of children’s homes during Child Month. The majority of those from her institution who participated in the event were in the 2 to 12-year-old age group.
“I think this fun-day that Food For The Poor hosts for them every year, is a good thing. They like it very much and they look forward to it. My little ones have enjoyed the face painting and drawing at the Crayons Count section,” declared Ms.Paddyfoot.
At Saturday’s ‘Day of Celebration’, the winners in the first round of the Lime and Spoon Competition included: Shadime King, first place, Patrick Burke second place and Shane Clarke third place, and in the second round of the Competition the winners were Kayann Reynolds, first place; Sanjay Stewart, second place and Latoya Linton, third place. In round one of the Sack Race, Sanjay Stewart was first and Sashae Minott was second.
This year, the partners collaborating with Food For The Poor Angels of Hope Programme to make the ‘Day of Celebration’ a success were: Best Dressed Chicken, Crayons Count, Happy Ice, Hillel Academy, It’s a Party, Lion’s Club of New Kingston, Mother’s Enterprises Ltd., National Baking, Rent-a-lot, Sure Time Ambulance, Tastee, Tankweld and Wisynco.
Through its Angels of Hope Programme, Food For The Poor provides assistance to 21 children’s homes islandwide, which serve as a haven for abused, abandoned and orphaned children. The charity offers food, clothing, educational supplies, furniture, financial assistance and medical supplies to the children’s homes. The FFP Angels of Hope Programme also provides some of the homes with agricultural training and supplies. In addition, the Programme ensures that the children from all the 21 homes are treated to a huge Christmas party with each child receiving a Christmas gift.
In some instances, the AOH Programme partners with FFP Projects Department to improve the infrastructure at children’s homes, including the implementation of water and construction projects.