Dreaming big

Rowlandsfield to roll out job creation project

BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor - special assignment

Monday, March 31, 2014    

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OPERATING a bag juice and chips production business. Re-introducing a line of soft toys, pillows and sheet sets.

These are the plans of the residents of Rowlandsfield in St Thomas. Plans which, when fulfilled, will not only provide jobs for the many unemployed members and equip them with skills, but will support local farmers and raise the profile of the community.

To this end, they have organised their efforts under the umbrella of the recently revived Rowlandsfield Community Development Committee as a platform for seeking grant funding.

The community already owns bag juice and sewing machines, as well as a multi-purpose facility in which to house the business on a small scale, but say they have been delayed by a lack of start-up capital.

"We are not waiting on politician or Government to help us because if we wait on them we are going to die. So, we are trying to help ourselves," said Phillip Whittle.

President of the committee Winston McDonald said although the group has written a proposal seeking grants to fund the income generating projects, they will proceed without it, albeit on a much smaller scale.

"We want to expand the facility that we have here but we could start with the space we now have," he explained.

McDonald said it is critical that the community resumes the production of soft toys, pillow cases and sheet sets which had ready markets when they used to produce them years ago.

"If we could start up back the sewing it would help many young people to learn to make things like pillows and sheets and that will help them to earn a living," he noted.

Kelvin Brown, who currently operates the sewing room at the facility said several persons were trained years ago and some of them will be able to now train others.

The idea behind the chips business, the residents said, is to also help farmers from the community gain access to a ready market for their produce as the plan is to use banana, sweet potato, pumpkin, breadfruit and plantain in the production.

Secretary Simone Hall explained that the committee was formed in 2004 but regrouped under a new executive last December as they are now on a new mission to uplift the community.

"We are trying to create jobs to get the young people more active in the community," she said.

The residents are also planning to set up a homework centre to assist students and will be seeking to acquire some computers to make this possible.

Senior citizen James Canan said he hopes to see the project expanded to the point where proceeds from the items produced will be used to grant scholarships to students of the community.

Resident Paulette Freckleton said some other communities have an interest in coming onboard, with the long-term plan of forming a cluster.

The project, she said, will help the numerous unemployed young people who have nothing else to do with their days.

"I have five kids and I am a single mother who does various jobs to get them to school and at the end of the day they are back sitting down and this is why we have to come together to get this thing off the ground," she said.

She added: "To get the young children not to be like us and just sit and have children we need the next generation to be able to move forward.

Public Relations Officer Clarence Thompson explained that the group is also engaged in various recreational activities as part of getting the community involved and engaged. One such activity is an inter-clubbing movement where various clubs come together to participate in a fun day, which is also used as an income earner.

"We visit clubs in Kingston to have domino competitions and they will be coming here to be a part of our general fun day for the community," he explained, adding that the funds raised from that activity will help to support the farmers group as well as the Community Development Committee.

The residents are hoping to be able to develop the playfield into a multi-purpose court for persons to engage in sporting activities.

According to Thompson, Rowlandsfield is a very vibrant community with talented young people who only need exposure.





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