MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Over 30 educational institutions island wide recently received furniture and other supplies through a first-phase donation by the United Kingdom (UK)-based Jarrett Foundation, organisers say.
The group, led by Pearl Jarrett, was started two-and-a-half years ago and its team members are made up of second and third generation Jamaicans living in the Diaspora.
Jarrett said that the group started collecting items from schools in the UK to deliver to countries such as Gambia and Sierra Leone after seeing the good condition of some of the supplies that were no longer being used at her daughter's school.
"I thought 'we are so wasteful in the UK'. Schools, especially in Africa, were in deplorable conditions. (I) went to different schools and asked for what they were throwing out, which could just be the wrong size or colour. Other organisations started calling (us) to come and get things. It is hard work, but it is exciting," she said at the handing over of the furniture to the Ministry of Education Region 5 office in Mandeville.
With Jamaica's 50th anniversary of political independence last year, she said, the decision was taken to give some assistance to the island.
Pastor Daren Larmond, Country Coordinator for the Foundation, told the Jamaica Observer Central that the initial talks for the donation began at the regional office of the Ministry of Education in Central Jamaica but the partnership is now formalised through the headquarters in Kingston.
From February 24- March 10 the group was in Jamaica to assist with the distribution of supplies from 40-foot and 20-foot containers.
Albion Primary, Mount St Joseph Preparatory, Evon Grant Basic, New Green Primary and Junior High, Hatfield Primary and Junior High, Huntley Primary, Nazareth All-Age, Seaview Basic, Top Hill Primary and Epping Forest Primary are among the schools in Manchester and St Elizabeth that received assistance, said Larmond.
Mount St Joseph Preparatory in Mandeville had to be restored, as a result of being partially razed by fire in February 2012.
In addition to the desks, chairs and books, the Foundation's website said that clothes and shoes were taken for some of the teachers who lost their possessions in the fire.
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites said last year that the Ministry was not able to purchase any school furniture and expressed gratitude for the partnership.
"It gives us a vision of a shared humanity and a shared concern that raises all of our spirits," he said.
"The need is great. Too many times alumni bodies and others make efforts and containers sit on the wharf for the senders to come and clear it and then ponder how it will be distributed. That is wrong. Even if it is a surplus in England we should say thanks," he added.
North West Manchester Member of Parliament Mikael Phillips was lauded by Thwaites for being "premier" among MPs who are "own(ing)" education in their constituencies.
Larmond said that the Foundation is committed to a sustained programme of support to education and other areas of social intervention.
Children's homes, hospitals, elderly care homes and churches were reportedly also beneficiaries.
"....We were delighted to see old and dangerous pieces of furniture being removed once and for all from several classrooms to be replaced by furniture provided by the Jarrett Foundation. The Foundation is happy to report that there is no shortage of supplies. There is a lot more where these came from and the potential is endless. Forging and maintaining the appropriate partnerships and alliances will enable us to continue this tremendous investment into our nation's future," he said.