Food For the Poor delivers early Christmas gift to Braeton
18th school in 14 months opened under FFP Jamaica 50 Programme
LAST Friday, Food For the Poor (FFP) officially opened the new Reliance Basic School, which it constructed in Braeton, St Catherine. The new facility is like an early Christmas gift for the people of Braeton, as it brought many smiles to their faces and hearts, and cheers of joy.
The new Reliance Basic School was constructed and officially opened under the Food For the Poor Jamaica 50 Campaign, which seeks to build and/or upgrade 50 early childhood schools over 50 months, in celebration of Jamaica's 50th year of Independence. It is the fourth school to be opened in St Catherine and the 18th to be opened islandwide under the FFP Jamaica 50 Programme.
The previous structure housing the school doubled as a community centre. Therefore, it posed serious challenges of unsuitable classroom space, insufficient furniture and inadequate bathroom and kitchen facilities. So bad was the overcrowding that the school had to be constantly turning away prospectives students, whose parents were desirous of enrolling them in the institution. The new school is a significant improvement over the former structure.
The new school is the result of a collaborative effort between FFP Jamaica, FFP Canada, the generous donors based in Canada — Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation — and the Braeton Citizens' Association. The new Reliance Basic School will give the pre-primary children of the community the opportunity to learn in a comfortable, child-friendly environment. The school comprises three cosy classrooms, a sick bay, office for the teaching staff, kitchen, and bathrooms.
Speaking at today's opening ceremony, Samantha Mahfood, executive director, FFP Canada, emphasised FFP's commitment to improving the lives of Jamaicans.
"Today is a celebration of our priorities, as a nation and as parents and teachers. Our priorities are our children and our children's education. This school, this investment in education, combined with strong teaching and parenting, is our children's path to success today and in the future."
She expressed appreciation to Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF), the Canadian-Jamaican donors, who financed the construction and furnishing of the school.
Mahfood pointed out that HHJF previously donated funds for the building of five schools in Jamaica with Food For The Poor Canada and Food For The Poor Jamaica. Those basic schools are: King's Infant in Long Hill, Westmoreland; Arlington Basic in St Elizabeth, Bernard Basic in St Thomas, Caribbean Palm Estate in Kingston, and Campbell Castle in Manchester.
The executive director of FFP Canada noted that the charity treasured the partnership with HHJF, and was also inspired by the philanthropy of HHJF.
Judith Royal Gardner, principal of the school, was overjoyed with the new facility, pointing out that she approached FFP for help after hearing about the launch of its Jamaica 50 Programme in June 2012.
Declaring, "Today we are a proud recipient of a brand new building," she praised FFP for the positive difference in the life of the school. She also praised the charity for providing the institution with child-appropriate furniture, a refrigerator and gas stove, which will enable the school to provide nutritious meals to students.
Debbie-Ann Pryce-Hoofung, development officer for Zone 56, Early Childhood Commission expressed satisfaction that the school had overcome a major hurdle and was now "harvesting" the fruits of their hard work and sacrifice. She pledged to continue to support the institution in ensuring that it continues to implement vibrant, age-appropriate programmes which encourage the cognitive, emotional and social development of the children.