The rich reward for helping others
Watson demonstrates how to do multiplications.

About 24 months ago, in Riverton Meadows — a socially and economically depressed community close to the municipal dump at Riverton on the western fringes of Kingston and St Andrew — a young volunteer educator asked a question which tugged at the heart.

"If not me, then who?" asked Mr Krishane Watson as the novel coronavirus pandemic raged.

His rhetorical query was by way of explanation to our reporter for volunteering to help children at a makeshift homework facility on the compound of the Riverton Meadows Early Childhood Education Centre.

Back then, we were told that, in addition to facilitating volunteers like Mr Watson and his students, Mr Junior Rowe, principal of the early childhood centre, was running a summer education programme. This was aimed at helping children recover from learning loss caused by the pandemic-induced break from physical school.

We note that the admirable Mr Rowe, an educator for well in excess of 40 years, is back in the news as a result of his unrelenting commitment to children.

Thanks to support over the last year from Desnoes & Geddes (D&G) Foundation, charity arm of blending and beverage giants D&G, Mr Rowe says the Riverton Meadows Early Childhood Education Centre is now only about "one per cent" from full accreditation by the authorities.

We are told that the latest push towards accreditation came with a gift from D&G of a commercial stove for the school's kitchen and a cheque worth $150,000 to help buy sanitisation products, complete repairs, and paint playground equipment.

Says Mr Rowe: "Last year we faced numerous limitations to accreditation, and we were much farther from achieving our certification before the D&G Foundation stepped in. With the foundation's help, we moved much closer to the finish line, and here they are again…"

Mr Dennis Beckford of the foundation says: "When we visited the institution last year we saw that the staff had already accomplished so much, and we truly admired their efforts. Although we made some contributions then, they had still not achieved full accreditation, so we knew there was more work to be done. With this monetary donation and the commercial stove we are hoping to hear soon that the school has been fully certified…"

As we understand it, in September last year D&G Foundation assisted with repairs to the school's nursery and donated sanitisers and masks, a refrigerator, baby changing stations, and wall fans.

At the time, Mr Beckford had also hailed the work of Mr Rowe and his team: "You rarely see this level of student engagement, especially at schools in underserved communities. Our admiration for what they have accomplished compelled us to assist…"

For all those who strive to lift others, word that their efforts are falling on fertile ground must be like music to the ears.

In the case of Riverton Meadows Early Childhood Education Centre we hear that, despite numerous challenges, of the more than 50 students who participated in the most recent four-year-old assessment, over 90 per cent were deemed to have performed above average.

That's wonderful encouragement for all those who make it their mission to help others, constantly asking of themselves: "If not me, then who?"

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