First Look

Food for the Poor & Its Canadian Partners improve Primary & Early Childhood Education Facilities in St. Elizabeth

0 | 2013-07-04 00:00:00

Food For The Poor has partnered with two Canadian organizations – Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), to build and upgrade early childhood and primary school facilities in St. Elizabeth. The beneficiaries of the partnership are Arlington Basic and Fullerswood Primary Schools – both situated in Arlington District.

The improvement to both educational institutions were carried out under the Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica 50 Programme. It aims to build and or upgrade 50 early childhood educational institutions in 50 months, in celebration of Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee.

The Arlington Basic School was suffering from inadequate classroom space, lack of a kitchen, and a derelict infrastructure, which was deteriorating at a rapid rate. FFP Jamaica, FFP Canada, HHJF and MLSE came to the rescue of the school population, by constructing a new school.   The new Arlington Basic School comprises three wonderful classrooms, a kitchen, sickbay, office, sanitation area and playground. It has a population of 40 students, but can comfortably accommodate just over 60 students. The new Arlington Basic School was officially opened and dedicated on Tuesday, July 2.

It is the fifteenth basic school to be built since the FFP Jamaica 50 Programme was launched in June 2012. Susan James Casserly, Projects Manager, FFP Inc., who addressed participants at the opening ceremony shared, “I know that the parents and teachers were concerned that the old school was not able to provide hot, nutritious meals for the children because of the absence of a canteen / kitchen. Now, brighter days have arrived with regard to the provision of meals and other necessities for the young ones!”

Ms. Tanesha Wright, Principal, Arlington Basic School, expressed appreciation: “The donation of a new school building will make a positive impact on teachers, students, parents and the community in general. We thank FFP and the donors.”  She added,  “Our old school was not in a good condition and was definitely not appropriate for the children.  It was unsafe, had cracks in the wall and was very uncomfortable for both students and teachers.  Having a new school that is the complete opposite of what we had before is a great blessing and will be an upliftment to the community.”   

The Fullerswood Primary School has benefited from the construction of a sanitation unit, which has flush toilets, recreational facilities – including a basketball court, as well as the installation of dry-partition walls for classrooms. FFP also donated computers to the Fullerswood Primary School. The presentation was held on Tuesday.

Susan James Casserly, Projects Manager, FFP Inc., outlined features of the upgrading exercise: “Currently the Fullerswood Primary School uses chalkboard to separate classrooms. We view our intervention of creating dry-partition walls where chalkboard dividers were used, and replacing pit latrines with flush toilets, as a matter of urgency and pivotal importance, in enhancing the learning environment for the primary school students.” The institution was built in 1968 and the upgraded facilities will make life much easier for the six teachers and 146 students.

Mrs. James Casserly commended HHJF and MLSE for their assistance and commitment in helping FFP to create a safer and more nurturing environment for the pre-primary and primary school children of Arlington District and its environs.  “We are delighted to liaise with your groups in replacing or upgrading institutions, which have been deemed as unfit spaces for our children to learn in,” said Mrs. James Casserly.

She expressed confidence that the construction and upgrading initiatives at both schools are “a potent demonstration that great things can be achieved for our children, with teamwork, philanthropy and dedication.”

Meanwhile, Samantha Mahfood, Executive Director, FFP Canada, said the involvement of Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is an amazing gift for the school and its children.  “It is inspirational that the staff of MLSE should be moved to support a cause thousands of miles from their community.” She explained that everyday FFP Canada is building new partnerships with Canadians.  “Canada and the Caribbean have a long and important history and we are proud to be part of this continuum.”

Winnifred Salmon, Principal, Fullerswood Primary School is overjoyed at the improved school facilities: “Good things come to those who wait. The timing for this well needed facelift right and we finally feel as though we are a recognized institution.”   She reflected on the feelings and views of the school community, “Both parents and teachers felt as though the bigger schools always received the attention and the help they needed and the smaller schools, such as Fullerswood Primary, were often overlooked even though we are performing under discouraging circumstances.  The donation of modern toilet facilities, partitions and a basketball court will give staff the drive to do more and it gives us a great sense of recognition.  We appreciate this gift so much.”

The donors expressed satisfaction that their generous donations would help to make a big difference in the lives of the Jamaican children. Karle Hale, Founder, Helping Hands Foundation who is a Jamaican-Canadian stated, “People talk about our beaches, our music and our food but our number one resource is people and these people that we are serving today, have been great and we are happy to be able to partner with FFP and assist the community.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Ian Clarke, Founder, Executive Vice President, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment:  “Best wishes to the principals of both schools, we are passing the torch to you to educate these children. We hope to return to be part of the graduation ceremonies. We also hope to see athletes and leaders coming from these schools.”  Mr. Clarke also commended FFP for its ongoing work with socio-economically challenged persons. “Food For the Poor is a structured organization that is doing a fantastic job, “ Mr. Clarke commented.
Among persons delivering remarks at the event were Hugh Buchanan, Member of Parliament, South West St. Elizabeth; Jacob Powell, Chairman, Arlington Basic School; and Jason Henzell, Founder/ Chairman, Breds – Treasure Beach Foundation. Mr. Henzell was responsible for collaborating with FFP, in identifying the needs, which existed at Arlington Basic School and Fullerswood Primary School.

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