Young entrepreneur paying it forwardThursday, October 21, 2021
Fifty families in the small farming community of McKenzie, St Ann have benefitted from a donation of 20 sim cards pre-loaded with a 25GB data plan courtesy of the Flow Foundation. The donation is part of a larger philanthropic effort by 876 Beachwear which is also donating modems and 30 tablets along with memory cards and memory sticks. Collectively, the donations will provide the families with well-needed online learning access and support.
876 Beachwear, which has been operational since 2018, has locations in Montego Bay, Kingston and Ocho Rios and was founded by Odeen Cunningham who is a native of McKenzie, St Ann. He is motivated by the example set by his parents – his mother is a teacher and his father is involved in the church. He explained that the selection of the beneficiaries was a collaborative effort with the church who were able to identify the beneficiaries based on need and number of children.
“The pandemic has hit our country hard, particularly our children as their education is suffering. We have to address this if we want to achieve Jamaica's Vision 2030 goals. This is why I chose this project for this year's outreach activity. One modem will impact more than one child as all the children and members of a family that gets a modem will benefit from Wi-Fi access,” he shared.
Cunningham continued, “I grew up in this community and my family still lives there. I think about all that I have achieved and the support that I got when I was growing up as well as the people who believed in me and helped me to achieve my goals. I believe we all have a responsibility to do what we can to make a difference in someone's life. I want to do the same thing for the young children in McKenzie. I plan to do my part. I want to pay it forward.”
Stephen Price, Chairman – Flow Foundation, presented the items to Cunningham, stating, “As we continue to see the rapid digital transformation of our society and the impact of the pandemic on online learning, it is critical that we continue to support our nation's children. They must be given the tools to succeed and so, our Flow Foundation remains focused on supporting initiatives like this which truly make a difference.”
“Connectivity is critical, and we will continue to do our part in ensuring that all Jamaicans, especially our children, are able to function in the digital space. This project goes to the heart of what we do at the Flow Foundation. There can be no doubt that the families, especially the children, who are the beneficiaries of this donation, will emerge the winners,” Price added.
For Michael and Nadine Abbott, parents to six (6) children, aged 10-17 years who are all attending school online, the SIM cards and modems are well-needed gifts. They shared their elation at having Wi-Fi access. “With six children needing to attend school online, you can imagine that the past year has been challenging for us. When we heard that we were selected to get one of these devices, with data, we cannot begin to tell you the relief we felt. We are continuing this new school year with a lighter heart knowing that our children have received this necessary support to help them with their online schooling. We are just very grateful,” they said.
Their daughter, 17-year-old Yanika, shared, “My brothers, sisters and I are very happy to be getting WiFi access in our home. It is going to be easier for us to complete our assignments during this new school year especially with some of us having to do our SBAs, CSEC and CAPE subjects.”
Kesley Simpson, a farmer and single parent to three children – aged 6, 10 and 13 years, stated, “The new school year just began and I can tell you that it has been very difficult to meet all the needs. I am very glad that we are getting this device to give them Wi-Fi access. It will be a great help with their school work and just keeping them occupied. It will also help me to manage the costs for data. I am truly thankful.”
Similar sentiments were also echoed by his 13-year-old son, Malique, who attends Spalding High School in Clarendon. “I feel good knowing that I will soon have Wi-Fi access in my home. I will get to do my school work on time and I can study with my friends and play games online,” he said.
The Flow Foundation is enabling progress through digital inclusion and has supported the education sector through various initiatives and several private-public partnerships under which they have provided devices and/or data to over 300 students across the island. The Foundation is also providing free high-speed internet service to over 250 schools.